Visitor experiences inside the Gateway Arch facility—including entrance indoors, Journey to the Top tram rides, Monument to the Dream movie showings, and access to the Arch Museum Store and Levee Mercantile—will be temporarily suspended Monday, January 4, 2016. These aspects of the visitor experience will be made available in spring 2016, when a renovated Arch Museum Store, a new digital projection system in the Tucker Theater, renovated restrooms, lighting and flooring updates will debut.
The Gateway Arch park grounds and access to the exterior of the Arch, as well as access to the riverfront via the Arch Grand Staircase, will remain available for visitors. Visitors can visit the base of the Arch’s South Leg and the newly renovated Luther Ely Smith Square, located between the Arch and Old Courthouse in downtown St. Louis. The public can take in more of the CityArchRiver construction outdoors with a special viewing platform in the square. The Old Courthouse will continue to operate normally and will offer plenty of visitor activities during this time.
“We encourage everyone to visit the Old Courthouse to view free exhibit galleries focusing on early St. Louis, Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery expedition, and the settlement of the Great Plains, as well as restored original courtrooms and an exhibit gallery focused on Dred and Harriet Scott, and their freedom suit,” says Rhonda Schier, Chief, Museum Services and Interpretation, Jefferson National Expansion Memorial.
During this time, the Old Courthouse will host a variety of free activities such as free viewings of Monument to the Dream documentary, which details the construction of the Gateway Arch; daily, ranger-led talks and interactive stations; and ranger-led walks to the Arch (weather permitting). In addition, the Family Fun program on Saturdays at 10 a.m. features an interactive presentation on a westward bound pioneer group followed by a craft activity. Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m., visitors can participate in a 30-minute Dred Scott mock trial, based on Scott’s second trail held in the Old Courthouse. Visitors will play the roles of participants such as the bailiff and jury members.
Art and Music in the Old Courthouse program will be offered on Thursdays from 2 to 4 p.m., and features a ranger-led talk and music as visitors participate in an indoor art project. Visitors interested in participating in any of these free programs should inquire with a ranger at the Information Desk in the Old Courthouse Rotunda.
The Arch Store, a new museum store designed by architect Charles Sparks & Co., will be constructed by local contractor ICS Construction Services. It will include interpretive products that align with the themes that will be presented in the new Arch museum, which opens in 2017. The store will sell homemade fudge that is currently available in the Levee Mercantile. These improvements, coupled with the CityArchRiver renovations to the park grounds and museum, will completely transform the Gateway Arch experience for all visitors.
“We are very eager to introduce this new shopping experience to visitors this spring,” says David Grove, President and CEO of Jefferson National Parks Association, the nonprofit partner of Jefferson National Expansion Memorial and the organization funding the renovation. “This renovation will combine our current Arch Museum Store and Levee Mercantile into one, resulting in 4,000 square feet of store space. It will feature a blend of thematic merchandise relating both to the Gateway Arch and to the historic themes of the park.”
A variety of parking locations are available within walking distance to the Arch and the Old Courthouse. Metered street parking is also available around the Old Courthouse.
Visitors are encouraged to check for up-to-date information on road detours and construction surrounding the Arch grounds before their visit. The Arch is accessible only by foot via the Walnut Street Bridge located at Memorial Drive and Walnut Street, near the Old Cathedral, and by the Arch Grand Staircase, located on the Mississippi Riverfront.