ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – For the first time since taking over Soldiers Memorial Military Museum, the Missouri Historical Society unveils plans for the exhibits in the renovated space.

They include core galleries on the main floor in four sections, from the time leading up to and through World War I, as well as World War II and its aftermath. The lower level has been gutted and will be renovated, doubling the exhibit space available.

Long vertical cuts have been made in the drywall in the main hall of the 79-year-old structure, where Karen Goering, managing director of administration and operations at the Missouri Historical Society, says HVAC heating and air conditioning will be added to make the room more comfortable.

An additional elevator and ramp at Chestnut and 13th are being added for accessibility. Goering says the concept of disabled veterans having to go to the back door was not acceptable. The main elevator will also be upgraded.

The mahogany walls are currently protected by foam boards, and the granite throughout the structure only needs cleaning, but some floors must be replaced.

“We will be putting in a cork floor again. The room originally had a cork floor,” Goering says.

The black granite cenotaph holds the names of the 1,075 St. Louis soldiers who lost their lives in World War I.

From there, you automatically look up to a Gold Star Mothers mosaic that covers the entire ceiling 38 feet above.

“The mosaic was one of the original installations. It’s still in remarkably good condition,” Goerning says.

The Court of Honor, added in 1948, is also getting a makeover.

“There’s going to be a reflecting pool in the center, and then a fountain that features five groupings of jets, one each to honor each of the five branches of the military,” Goerning says.

The four sculptures carved in bedford stone on the north and south sides of the building have been cleaned of decades of dirt. They were designed by St. Louisan Walker Hancock, one of the real life “monuments men” whose story was used as an inspiration for John Goodman’s character in the 2014 movie.

The $30 million project is on target to open in time for Veterans Day in November 2018. Goering says they’re already getting inquiries from people with military artifacts they’d like to donate, like the original model for one of the sculptures in the Court of Honor.

The Missouri Historical Society is holding public forums on renovation plans for Soldiers Memorial:

Thursday, February 23 at 7 p.m.
AT&T Foundation Multipurpose Room
Missouri History Museum
Lindell and DeBaliviere in Forest Park

Monday, March 6 at 5:30 p.m.
Old Post Office – St. Louis
815 Olive Street

Saturday, March 18 at 9 a.m.
Soulard American Legion, BK Post 422
2601 S. 11th Street

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