St. Louis Cultural Sites

National Blues Museum

National Blues Museum performers; credit NBM

St. Louis Cultural Sites

St. Louis Cultural Sites are solid from many years of a large black population building its musical, dance, visual arts and black college heritage. It includes a prominent & beloved mural, cultural centers, black history wax museum, black theater, an art gallery plus an inspiring monument to a black historic district in St. Louis and East St. Louis.

Blacks in Flight Mural
DESCRIPTION: This unique mural by Spencer Taylor and Solomon Thurman was dedicated in 1990. The mural portrays 75 African Americans who have made important contributions to aviation since 1917.
ADDRESS: Lambert-St Louis International Airport, lower level main concourse, east of baggage claim MAP
PARKING: garage and long term parking

National Blues Museum
DESCRIPTION: Since its origins in the Mississippi Delta, the Blues has been a foundational element for virtually all American popular music since 1900. That makes it surprising to discover this is the only museum dedicated exclusively to honoring the story of the Blues and its impact on American culture. The Museum includes over 15,000 square feet of interactive technology and artifact exhibits, a theatre, special event space and classrooms. Their educational programming, a major component of our mission, focuses on providing on-site curriculum-based music education as well as outreach to schools. It is refreshing to see how so many photos of Jazz, pop, rock, soul artists acknowledge that the Blues were at the root of their music genres and commercial success. Check ahead to see when they feature traveling photographic exhibits and don’t forget the gift shop.
ADMISSION: $15 and under; group discounts
DAYS & HOURS: Tue-Sat 10a-5p, Sun-Mon Noon 5p
ADDRESS: 615 Washington Avenue, St. Louis, MO MAP
PARKING: on street
PHONE: 314-925-0016
WEBSITE: https://www.nationalbluesmuseum.org/

Harris-Stowe State University

The Griot Museum of Black History and Culture
DESCRIPTION: Formerly called Black World History Wax Museum, Lois Conley founded this fascinating place to experience African American history in 1997. The museum features life-size wax figures of Dred and Harriet Scott, George Washington Carver, Josephine Baker, John Barry Meacham, Madame C.J. Walker and Miles Davis to stimulate your appreciation for their contributions to Black world history. The museum also has other traditional exhibits plus videos, games for kids, and a history hunt. A small gift shop is on the premises.
ADMISSION: $5 Adults, $4 for 13-17, $3.50 for 65+, $2.50 for children 12 and under; group discounts
DAYS & HOURS: Tue-Sat 10a-5p
ADDRESS: 2505 St. Louis Avenue, St. Louis, MO MAP
PARKING: on street
PHONE: 314-241-7057
WEBSITE: http://www.thegriotmuseum.com

Unity Theatre Ensemble
DESCRIPTION: Presenting plays by musicals and original works that express the African American experience, as well as examine issues and celebrate achievements. Formerly known as Kutana Players, it began as a graduate project by Ralph E. Greene at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale in 1971. The success of the project led to the company’s mounting a major production as a part of the SIUC theater department. In 1974, Greene was invited by Katherine Dunham to develop a theater training component in East St. Louis. In 1979, the company’s name was changed from Kutana Players to Unity Theatre Ensemble which was consistent with the changing philosophy and ideas of the artistic director and the direction of the company. From 1974-1996, Unity Theatre Ensemble was the Resident Theatre Company at the Katherine Dunham Center for the Performing Arts (KDCPA) in East St. Louis Center with many annual productions before moving to St. Louis.
BOX OFFICE: $15 advance/ $18 at the door. Tickets may be purchased at all MetroTix outlets (314-534-1111) or Afro World (314-389-5194) with small service charge.
CURTAIN TIMES: Thu-Sat 7:30p, Sat-Sun 3p
ADDRESS: 2240 St. Louis Avenue, St. Louis, MO MAP
PARKING: on street
PHONE: 314-355-3586
WEBSITE: http://www.utensemble.org

St. Louis Black Repertory Company
DESCRIPTION: Founded 1976 by artistic director and producer Ronald Himes; during the 1980’s, the company began hiring guest actors, directors, designers and choreographers locally and nationally, they also began presenting regional dance companies and a musical film series. By 1986, the company became the only African-American theatre in the Midwest to operate under a contract with the Actor’s Equity Association, guaranteeing union wages to its actors and stage managers. Later, the Black Rep narrowed its focus to only African-American live theater. It blossomed into one of the nation’s premier professional black theater companies. Their season runs from January-June in the renovated 500 seat Grandel Theatre with seating that nearly surrounds the stage.
BOX OFFICE: Mon-Fri 9a-6p, Sat 9a-Noon
CURTAIN TIMES: 7:30p
ADDRESS: office 1717 Olive Street, , St. Louis, MO; #4 theater at 3610 Grandel Square, St. Louis, MO MAP
PARKING: small lot on premises and on street
PHONE: 800-572-7776
WEBSITE: http://theblackrep.org

Portfolio Gallery and Education Center
DESCRIPTION: Established in 1989 by Robert A Powell to educate and expand the awareness to public of AA regional artists. It teaches visual arts classes, such as pottery, drawing, painting, photography, silk-screening, sculpture for all age groups; conducts field trips and seminars. The art gallery is constantly looking for visual artists to display works.
ADMISSION: Free
DAYS & HOURS: Mon, Wed & Fri 9a-5p
ADDRESS: 3514 Delmar Avenue, St. Louis, MO MAP
PARKING: on street
PHONE: 314-533-3323
WEBSITE: http://www.portfoliogallerystl.org

Vaughn Cultural Center
DESCRIPTION: Established in 1977 by the Urban League to provide cultural enrichment in the St Louis metro area. The center hosts six artist exhibits on display yearly. Jazz and Gospel concerts. Its a popular forum book signings and live performances, art classes for children, and is a local forum for community events.
ADMISSION: Free
DAYS & HOURS: Mon-Fri 10a-5p
ADDRESS: 3701 Grandel Square , St. Louis, MO MAP
PARKING: on street
PHONE: 314-289-0391
WEBSITE: http://www.ulstl.org

The Ville Monument
DESCRIPTION: Pays tribute to the neighborhood’s famous sons and daughters, such as Chuck Berry, Tina Turner, and Arthur Ashe among others.
ADDRESS: Martin Luther King Blvd & Sarah Avenue, St. Louis, MO MAP
PARKING: on street
WEBSITE: http://stlouis.missouri.org/greaterville/history.htm

George Washington Carver Garden
DESCRIPTION: Picturesque George Washington Carver Garden is one of the newest permanent gardens in the Missouri Botanical Garden. A stately bronze sculpture of Mr. Carver, impressive and expressive fountains and etched sayings by this innovative African American inventor, a native of Missouri, are part of the glories of the garden.
ADMISSION: Free
DAYS & HOURS: daily 9a-5p
ADDRESS: Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO MAP
PARKING: free on premise
PHONE: 314-577-5100
WEBSITE: http://www.mobot.org

Julia Davis Branch Library
DESCRIPTION: Dr Julia Davis (1891-1993) did graduate work at Lincoln, Boston, Northwestern, St Louis, Syracuse and New York Universities. She taught in St Louis public schools from 1913-1961. On the day of her retirement she established a fund to purchase books, manuscripts and other materials related to African American’s contributions to world culture. In addition to the Julia Davis collection this 50,000 book public library features a 125-seat auditorium for many civic events.
ADMISSION: Free
DAYS &a HOURS: Mon-Thu 9a-9p, Fri-Sat 9a-6p, Sun 1p-5p
ADDRESS: 4415 Natural Bridge Avenue, St. Louis, MO MAP
PARKING: on street
PHONE: 314-383-3021
WEBSITE: Link

Martin Luther King, Jr. Statue
DESCRIPTION: Dedicated in 1978, it is America’s most impressive statue of this great leader and stands over 10 feet tall with the words “His Dream — Our Dream” engraved on the limestone pedestal. This work was completed by St. Louis sculptor Rudolph Torrine.
ADDRESS: Fountain Park, St. Louis, MO MAP
PARKING: on street

Katherine Dunham Museum and Cultural Center
DESCRIPTION: Founded by world renown choreographer, dancer, teacher, and social activist Katherine Dunham, who arrived in East St. Louis in 1967. This museum and cultural center is located in a nicely restored estate. Her amazing collections include The Haitian Room paintings, furniture pieces, carvings, macramé, thunderstones, and art relics from the Caribbean and African cultures – several were designed by Miss Dunham. The Dynamic Room celebrates West African culture through the display of sculpture, masks, statuettes and tapestry. The Music Room contains African, Caribbean, and Latin American percussion instruments collected by Miss Dunham during her travels – some used by the Dunham Dance Company. At any given time this museum and cultural center has art exhibits, dance rehearsals and more. The best time to visit is during the annual exhibition shows celebrating Black History Month and Women History Month.
DAYS & HOURS: Mon-Tue & Thu-Sat 10a-4p; tour times 10a, 11a, 1p, 2p and 3p
ADMISSION: $
ADDRESS: 1005 Pennsylvania Avenue, East St. Louis, IL MAP
RAPID TRANSIT: Emerson Park Metrolink stop
PARKING: on street
PHONE: 618-874-8560
WEBSITE: http://www.eslarp.uiuc.edu/kdunham

St. Louis Gives Birth to R&B

Scott Joplin & Ragtime

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