courtesy Missouri History Museum
The free, self-guided tour of the Missouri History Museum is one of St. Louis’ best deals, allowing a group to learn about the region’s history and culture, and peruse one of the country’s largest regional museum collections that includes artifacts tied to aviator Charles Lindbergh, explorers Lewis and Clark, and the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis.
Groups can enhance their visit with a variety of add-ons, including a self-guided scavenger hunt. Participants move through the galleries to find docents waiting to give them assignments such as snapping selfies, answering questions and other fun activities.
For groups that want to spend more time in the city or have a broader interest in history, tourism and group sales manager Tami Goldman is happy to create tours that meld the museum and other St. Louis attractions.
“I love getting calls and emails from tour operators to help them put together their itinerary,” she said. “I encourage them to start here and get some ideas. Then we can help them branch out,” she said. “There are so many thematic ways to include the Museum. I can make almost anything connect.”
One unique experience is a motorcoach tour tied to a special exhibit. Currently, the Museum is featuring an exhibit about The Muny, a historic outdoor theater in St. Louis. Visitors tour the exhibit and feel as if they are going behind the scenes, exploring everything from set design to choreography.
“Maybe they’re not familiar with The Muny,” said Goldman, “but they enjoy theater. The exhibit walks them through what putting on a theatrical production is all about.” Using that content as a jumping off point, groups can reboard the motorcoach and visit a few of St. Louis’ theater companies.
If your group is looking for a more in-depth approach with an opportunity to learn from experts, Goldman has another suggestion. “We have created a few tours utilizing our curators or historians acting as step-on guides who explore the area with a variety of themes.” Explore St. Louis’ ties to coffee by visiting local coffee roasters, from new upstarts to one of the city’s oldest. “It’s a three-hour tour. Groups taste their way through and learn St. Louis’ significance in the coffee industry,” said Goldman.
If you only have an hour, then Goldman suggests the Forest Park tour. The group will learn the park’s history, including the 1904 World’s Fair up to the present day. It now serves as home to some of the city’s finest cultural institutions.
If a tour has a particular focus, Goldman can, with about a month’s notice, arrange for a curator to pull artifacts from the collection. As curators carefully handle artifacts with gloved hands, they share stories of a piece’s significance and how it made its way to the Museum. “We can pull out one of the elkskin journals from the Lewis and Clark Expedition or Lindbergh’s flight book,” said Goldman. This special experience takes place at the Missouri History Museum Library and Research Center, located just a few blocks away from the Museum.
No matter how a group chooses to visit, all group tours receive the same, warm Midwestern welcome. It’s another detail that sets the Missouri History Museum apart in its approach to group travelers. Says Goldman, “We meet and greet every group that comes to the Museum on the bus, so we set the tone for the visit right away.”
If you go
For pre-registered groups, museum staff step on to share history, give a quick orientation and distribute discount coupons for the gift shop and cafe. Admission is free; nominal per person charges for guided tours, curator talks, scavenger hunts and step-on guides.
314-454-3137 (group sales)