Wilson's Creek National Battlefield Visitor Center, museum reopens after $3.5M renovation
Following a $3.5 million renovation project that spanned more than a year to complete, Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield Visitor Center and Museum is open to the public again.
Officials with the National Park Service were joined by several others, including Senator Roy Blunt and Congressman Billy Long, for a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday morning.
Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield Superintendent Sarah Cunningham said via news release that it was her honor see this project finished.
“We could not have accomplished this substantial improvement to the visitor experience and protection of the collection without the strong partnership of the Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield Foundation, the work of many dedicated employees and volunteers, and the support of the National Park Foundation,” Cunningham stated.
This 18-month renovation added about 1,800 square feet of new exhibit space to the museum. The expanse will allow visitors to see the park’s collection of Civil War artifacts. Among them, the original “Lyon bed,” where the body of Union General Nathaniel Lyon was laid after his death during the battle of Wilson’s Creek.
New displays of edged weapons and firearms, including a rare Model 1860 Henry repeating rifle, were recently donated to the park from Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield Foundation. The museum also has several interactive and accessible audio-visual displays along with virtual displays.
Other improvements focused on redesigning the bookstore, information desks and bathrooms while adding curatorial storage and employee workspaces. A new HVAC system was also installed to ensure long-term preservation of museum artifacts along with visitor comfort.
The John K. and Ruth Hulston Civil War Research Library will be reopened to the public starting May 29.
Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield Foundation President Garin Ferguson said the foundation is pleased to provide a portion of funding, purchasing important artifacts while contributing to the funding of video interpretations at the renovated visitor center and museum.
“The new museum exhibits will enhance the experience of more than 200,000 visitors who come to Wilson’s Creek each year,” Ferguson said. “We are confident that this project exemplifies our mission of preserving and protecting Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield.”
The renovations will put history at the “fingertips of park visitors,” said National Park Foundation President and CEO Will Shafroth.
“The National Park Foundation is grateful for the innovative, public-private partnership funding model that helped bring this project to life, matching $500,000 in philanthropic support from the Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield Foundation with $500,000 in federal funding authorized and appropriated for NPF under the National Park Service Centennial Act,” Shafroth said.
Beginning Friday, the Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield Visitor Center and Museum is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Entry fees will resume on Saturday, May 29. Details on park hours, fees and passes are available on the park’s website.
“Consistent with CDC recommendations, people who are not fully vaccinated must continue to wear masks indoors and in crowded outdoor spaces,” according to the news release. “Masks are required for everyone on all forms of public transportation.”
More information is available at www.nps.gov/coronavirus.
Sara Karnes is an Outdoors Reporter with the Springfield News-Leader. Follow along with her adventures on Twitter and Instagram @Sara_Karnes. Got a story to tell? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.