There are 50 states and 56 state museums. The District of Columba has one and 4 states have 2. The 4 are Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, and Missouri.
Ruth & I have been in only 11 of them, so our goal is to visit more. The best one we’ve been in is California’s. Other very worthwhile ones are in Oklahoma, Illinois, and South Dakota. The worst, so far, is Oregon’s. Like most state museums, California’s is in its capital city, Sacramento. Oregon’s is one of only 2 that are not in the state’s capital. It’s in Portland and its permanent displays look like they haven’t been tended to in generations. The other state is where I currently live, Washington. Its state museum in in Tacoma, not Olympia.
Missouri has 2. The state museum is in Jefferson City and its history museum is in St Louis. The building containing the Missouri History Museum was originally built as the first national monument to Thomas Jefferson. This makes sense since the Lewis and Clark Expedition that Jefferson authorized began near St. Louis. The museum dedicated to Jefferson preceded the far more famous monument in Washington, DC, by many years. The later was dedicated by President Roosevelt in 1943 during World War II. The Jefferson Memorial Building in St. Louis was built from the profits resulting from its successful 1904 World’s Fair. JMB opened in 1913 and stands where the entrance once welcomed fair visitors in what is now Forest Park. Visitors saw wonders from around the world beyond a grand entrance, like the Blackwood and mother of pearl table below that was displayed in the Chinese Pavilion.
JMB’s Thomas Jefferson statue is now in the Missouri History Museum between its permanent exhibits. One exhibit is entirely, and not unexpectedly, dedicated to the World’s Fair. The other is an eclectic collection of pictures and memorabilia about natural and not so natural disasters that affected this city. The natural included a historic earthquake and some tornados. There were Lewis and Clark artifacts, info about the Cardinals, etc.
The most famous artifact on display in this free museum is a replica of The Spirt of St. Louis, the plane that Charles Lindbergh flew across The Atlantic. The original is, of course, in the Smithsonian. Used in the 1957 Jimmy Stewart movie The Spirit of St. Louis, this mostly wooden replica shown above has hung in the Missouri History Museum since the year 2000.
This museum speciality is excellent temporary shows. Opening October 29, 2016, is “Toys of the 50s, 60s, and 70s”. It will be in MHM until January 22, 2017. The other, which we did see, was unique, wonderful, and nostalgic. Called “Main Street Through St. Louis”, it’s about Route 66’s considerable impact on this city. It will be there until July 16, 2017, so you have plenty of time to see it, and I imagine that Ruth and I will visit it again. I’ll tell a bit about it tomorrow.