Gateway Arch National Park Museum

Saint Louis

Gateway Arch National Park commemorates Saint Louis’s role in the westward expansion of the United States. Situated at the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, Saint Louis was the ideal location from which to explore America’s new territories.

The French founded Saint Louis in 1764. They developed trade with the Osage Indians. The city grew into a successful fur trading post.

In 1803, President Thomas Jefferson signed the Louisiana purchase. The new territory doubled the size of the United States. Jefferson sent Meriwether Lewis and William Clark on a mission to explore the new lands. Lewis and Clark set out from Camp Dubois in May of 1804 to establish a route up the Missouri River to the Pacific. They returned to St. Louis in 1806.

Gateway Arch Museum

President Franklin D Roosevelt designated Jefferson National Expansion Memorial in 1935. To create the memorial, 40 blocks of old buildings on the site of the original French colony were demolished.

I visited the Arch with the National Park Travelers Club. We started our tour with the movie, “Monument to the Dream.” From there, we rode the tram up to the viewing platform at the top. While we were waiting for our Mississippi Steamboat ride, we had time to explore the museum on ranger-led tours.

The museum at the base opened in 2018 when the Memorial was elevated to National Park Status. It interprets the history of the Native Osage people as well as the French Colonial and Westward expansion periods.

The museum shares St. Louis’s role in United States history, from the city’s founding in 1764 to the completion of the Gateway Arch in 1965. The museum features six connected galleries:

  1. Colonial St. Louis – Covers the Indigenous and Creole culture of St. Louis before the Louisiana Purchase
  2. Thomas Jefferson’s Vision – discusses Jefferson’s expansionist vision for the United States
  3. New Frontiers – Explores how people settled and lived in the West.
  4. The Riverfront Era – Steamboats change St. Louis forever
  5. Manifest Destiny – examines the impact of expansion on indigenous people.
  6. Building the Dream – illustrates how the Gateway Arch became a reality.

St. Louis Posts

  • Gateway Arch
  • Gateway Arch Museum
  • Peace Medals
  • The Old Courthouse
  • Mississippi River
  • Lewis and Clark Camp River Dubois
  • Confluence Tower
  • Chahokia Mounds

Location: 11 N 4th St #1810, St. Louis, MO 63102
Designation: National Park
Date designated/established: February 22, 2018
Date of my visit: July 14, 2022

10 thoughts on “Gateway Arch National Park Museum

  1. Thank you for this post. While we live close to the Arch, we have not visited since the museum was redone and opened in 2018. I did not realize there were ranger-led tours. This will be on my list to visit this winter. The museum looks really great, and your post reminds me to get there.

    1. Thanks, Betty. If I remember correctly, there were 3 or 4 scheduled talks in and around the collections during the day. July is peak tourist time though….I’d check the website before you go in winter. They usually list the tours on the calendar

  2. Looks interesting. I’m glad they at least honor some history of the Natives whose land the US stole, continues to use and abuse, and slaughtered across this country. The US has such a tragic history of abusing others.

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