After 18 months of being closed for renovations, a $3.5 million project opened to the public May 28 at Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield Visitor Center and Museum just outside Springfield.
The renovation added about 1,800 square feet of new museum exhibit space, allowing patrons to view the park’s extensive collection of Civil War artifacts. It features the original “Lyon bed” where the body of the first Union general to die during the Civil War, Nathaniel Lyon, was laid after his death during the Battle of Wilson’s Creek.
“It is my honor to bring this project to a successful conclusion and welcome visitors, near and far, to once again learn more about this significant historical event and experience the new exhibits,” said battlefield superintendent Sarah Cunningham.
New displays showcase the park’s collection of edged weapons and firearms, including a rare Model 1860 Henry repeating rifle donated to the park by the Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield Foundation. The museum also provides several new interactive and accessible audiovisual and virtual displays, making it possible for people to view historic weapons demonstrations and digitally view fragile artifacts and other items that are in storage.
Other improvements include a redesign of the bookstore, information desk and bathrooms, additional curatorial storage and employee workspaces and a new HVAC system to ensure the long-term preservation of museum artifacts and visitor comfort. All the renovations, including expansion of the museum, were kept within the existing footprint of the visitor center complex.
“We’re excited the facility is reopening,” said Susan Wade, public relations manager for the Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau. “The battlefield is among the area’s top attractions with about 200,000 patrons annually. After seeing the quality of the completed renovations, I’m sure it will be even more popular.”IMG_4823.jpg
The Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield Visitor Center and Museum is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Admission to the facility is free and fees are charged for the tour road. The adjacent John K. and Ruth Hulston Civil War Research Library reopens to the public May 29.
Consistent with CDC recommendations, people who are not fully vaccinated must continue to wear masks indoors and in crowded outdoor spaces. Additional details are available at www.nps.gov/coronavirus. As conditions are subject to change, visitors should check the park’s website and social media channels for details on operations before they visit.
For more information about the battlefield, visit www.nps.gov. For information about Springfield, visit www.SpringfieldMO.org or call 800-678-8767.
About Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield: Administered by the National Park Service, Wilson's Creek National Battlefield preserves the site of the first major battle of the Civil War in the west. The Confederate victory on August 10, 1861, focused greater national attention on the war in Missouri, leading to greater federal military action. The park features a significant museum collection and substantial research library in addition to a well-preserved battlefield, 5-mile tour road, historic structures including the 1852 Ray House, a preserved section of the historic Wire Road, and hiking and horseback riding trails.
About the National Park Service: More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America's 423 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at www.nps.gov, and on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.