Newly renovated Arch grounds open for all

ST. LOUIS – Like the rivers that converge in this region, it was a coming together and combination of public and private money—and effort—to reopen the Arch Museum and the recently renamed Gateway Arch National Park.

On the eve of the Fourth of July, the Arch Museum reopened to the public.

Working with the National Park Service to create a public-private partnership to fund the $380 million overhaul, the biggest in NPS history.

“This has brought in $220 million from the private sector. Another $90 million, that was Prop P,” said Rep. Ann Wagner (R-2nd Congressional District). “So the voters made the decision to support this investment in our community, along with another $70 million that came from federal and local government and state, so this is a big collaboration.”

“From start to finish, to create this model of what that public-private partnership can look like, it's a great template of how this process can work in this second century," said Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Missouri).

From various accounts, the Arch overhaul project first began at least 10 years ago.

“The voters of the city and county voted to pass a bill to pay for this. But it's added 46,000 square-feet, six museum galleries,” said Carolyn Kindle Betz, chairwoman of the Gateway Arch Park Foundation.

“I began about 10 years ago with Jack Danforth and Walter Metcalf and I brought (then-Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar) here in 2009,” said Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri).

“Early on, I had a meeting with Senator Danforth when they first started talking about this project one day in St. Louis, and he was telling me about this vision,” said Missouri Governor Mike Parson. “You hear it, but to realize it and turn it into reality is pretty neat.”

Susan Saarinen, daughter of Arch designer Eero Saarinen, agreed, adding that her late father would be “very pleased” with the renovation and fresh look.

“It's a weighted catenary curve. I remember going into the basement and ducking underneath all the chains that were hanging some like this and some like that,” said.

Working across the aisle; that’s how this project was done.

And working across the highway, too. It used to be known as the depressed lanes of Interstate 70. When they were capped, the Missouri Department of Transportation renamed that section of roadway I-44.

Either way, the Arch grounds are better connected with downtown.