Courtesy of the Missouri History Museum
Meriwether Lewis Telescope
Explorer Meriwether Lewis' telescope is one of the many priceless items on display at the special exhibit at the Missouri History Museum in St. Louis.
By Alex Stewart
Until April 15, visitors can check out the museum’s newest exhibit, “The Louisiana Purchase: Making St. Louis, Remaking America,” featuring a collection of historic documents and artifacts that helped expand the United States and molded the Midwest into what it is today. The star of the show is the original Treaty of Cession, as known as the Louisiana Purchase, from 1803.
The Treaty, written in French and later translated to English, details the United States’ payment of $15 million to France for 828,000 square miles of land west of the Mississippi.
The result of a partnership with the National Archives, the exhibit showcases several other documents that have never been presented to the public before. Other notable pieces include Lewis and Clark’s elkskin journal, an armchair once owned by Thomas Jefferson, and a locket containing some of Napoleon’s hair.
The exhibit is divided into three sections. First is “St. Louis: A Creole Capital,” about life in the gateway city as a French and Spanish trading capital prior to the Louisiana Purchase. Next is “The Halls of Power,” which details the process of the transaction between France and the United States. Finally, “St. Louis: An American City,” sheds light on the adjustments people had to make after becoming American territory.
If you’re looking for the exhibit’s headliner, make a beeline for its center.
“The Louisiana Purchase Treaty itself is actually in a room by itself,” says Adam Kloppe, the museum’s writing and research fellow. “We’ve got big, dramatic lighting in there, so they can see the pen strokes and signatures of James Monroe, Robert Livingston, and François Barbé-Marbois, the three men who signed the Louisiana Purchase Treaty, and see their wax seals that they affixed to it.”
The exhibit is part of St. Louis’s 250th anniversary celebration.