Nonprofit Spotlight: Missouri Historical Society

The Missouri Historical Society (MHS) makes local history accessible to over 400,000 visitors and 36,000 students each year. 

A visitor said, “I live in St. Louis. I grew up in St. Louis. My parents grew up in St. Louis. My grandparents grew up in St. Louis. My great-grandparents emigrated to St. Louis. I grew up hearing so many things St. Louis. St. Louis is indeed part of me. The Missouri Historical Society is my multi-generational memory album.” 

The core values of the Missouri Historical Society are: 

  • Foster community engagement 
  • Lead education and exploration 
  • Strive for excellence and expertise 
  • Commit to stewardship and sustainability 
  • Honor inclusivity and collaboration 

To achieve these core values, the Missouri Historical Society’s three locations—the Missouri History Museum, Library and Research Center, and Soldiers Memorial Military Museum—offer opportunities for audiences to be inspired and engaged as they learn about historical perspectives and contemporary issues. 

Working in the conservation lab.

Conservation support of over 179,000 artifacts is critical to the research, exhibits, and educational programs that MHS spearheads. Conservation work differs from restoration in that the goal is to preserve the integrity of the artifact, not make the object look brand new. Artifact conservation often leads to unexpected challenges that require inventive solutions, such as using an x-ray machine. The Missouri History Museum is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums for artifact conservation, an accreditation held by only 3% of museums. 

“The care of these artifacts is taken very seriously,” said Madeline Reichmuth, Public Information Officer. “No matter if they are in storage or on view, at all stages of the process, we are dedicated to making sure they are getting the best care.” 

This bimah (raised podium) from the United Hebrew Congregation Temple awaits restoration. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave a speech from this podium in 1960.

MHS’s many virtual offerings make history accessible from the home. The online collections allow viewers to see artifacts and research materials that are not on display. “Almost 200,000 objects have been conserved, catalogued, and digitized so that they can be viewed online,” said Reichmuth. “Our collections are a great resource for a variety of interests. From geneology, period clothing, the World’s fair—there’s so much more than what is on display at the museum.” 

Another virtual offering, MHS’s blog, History Happens Here, features fascinating pieces of regional history, behind-the-scenes information, highlights from collections, and more. MHS is also collecting Stories of the Pandemic in a digital archive as a way to understand how St. Louisans have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic from an individual perspective. 

“The Missouri Historical Society has given me the opportunity to get to know this city and region so much more than I would have otherwise,” said Brittany Krewson, Digital Communications Manager. Join Krewson in getting to know St. Louis by planning your visit or becoming a member. 

The Missouri Historical Society is a participant in Give STL Day. Give STL Day is powered by the St. Louis Community Foundation and will take place on May 5, 2022.