The State Historical Society of Missouri is ready to open its doors to the public at its new headquarters at 605 Elm St., Columbia. The grand opening and building dedication will be at 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 10. Staff, members and trustees of SHSMO, public officials, representatives of the University of Missouri and invited guests will be on hand for the dedication. The public is invited to tour parts of the building following the ceremony.
The date holds special meaning to residents of Missouri, according to Gary Kremer, executive director of the State Historical Society of Missouri.
“Aug. 10, 1821, is the official day of Missouri’s statehood. One-hundred ninety-eight years later, we begin a new chapter in understanding the state’s past with an impressive and dynamic building for collecting, preserving and publishing materials that help us learn about the history of Missouri and its region,” Kremer said.
The new 76,700-square-foot building provides nearly 49,000 more square feet of space than the society’s previous home in the basement of the University of Missouri’s Ellis Library, where it resided for more than a century. The added space will accommodate a larger research center and art galleries, as well as classrooms, a bookstore, and an auditorium for public programs and events.
Groundbreaking for the new building began a little more than two years ago. Thirty-five million dollars in state bonds and private donations helped to raise the money needed for the new facility. River City Construction of Ashland constructed the building using Missouri-quarried stone for the exterior and oak from Poplar Bluff for much of the interior. Gould Evans of Kansas City is the architect. The building’s design is inspired by the idea of confluence, which reflects both Missouri’s historic and geographic importance as the place where the Mississippi and Missouri rivers meet, and the building’s purpose as a meeting place for all who are interested in the state and its past.
“This symbolic connection of our waterways and how we would like to encourage inquiry into our past led to a building where the spaces flow into each other and bring people with different interests together,” Kremer said. “It took many, many people committed to making this day possible. It’s a new era for the State Historical Society of Missouri and an exciting time for the citizens of our state.”