A Panoramic Preview

29, August 2017

Over the past several years, the Missouri History Museum has helped people experience different aspects of St. Louis history like never before. A Walk in 1875 St. Louis explored one amazing year in our city’s past, Route 66 revealed local history through a road that connected our region to the nation, and #1 in Civil Rights brought to light our city’s incredible contributions to the continued struggle for equality. Our newest exhibit, Panoramas of the City, continues this tradition.

This exhibit is your chance to experience the first half of the 20th century through some of the largest and most spectacular photographs ever taken of St. Louis. Called panoramas, these wide-angle photographs capture both the massive sweep of history and the tiny details that help us relate to the past. They tell stories of struggle and celebration, devastation and triumph. They feature famous and influential people and events, as well as people and events long forgotten.

Portion of panoramic photo depicting Lindbergh's homecoming celebration on Art HillPortion of a panorama showing 100,000 St. Louisans gathered on Art Hill to celebrate Charles Lindbergh's homecoming. It's one of the seven amazing photos that will be enlarged in Panoramas of the City. Missouri History Museum.

To bring these dichotomies into sharper focus, we’ve enlarged seven of these panoramas to a massive scale—some will be almost 10 feet tall and nearly 40 feet long—so that you’ll feel like you can step right into them. We’ve also pulled out tales of the people and places you can see in each picture and provided context for things that were happening just outside the frame. Displays of artifacts from our collections that relate to each photograph, from Veiled Prophet dresses to Charles Lindbergh’s medals, highlight the captured history in 3-D reality.

But, of course, that isn’t all. We’ve also reproduced more than 50 other panoramas of St. Louis history at close to their actual size and added special viewing stations where you’ll be able to zoom in on details that are easy to miss. And because St. Louis’s most prolific panoramic photographers also have their own stories to tell, we’ve added profiles of them and displays of actual equipment they used to capture these incredible images.

Portion of sepia-toned panoramic photo of Red Cross nursesPortion of a smaller panorama showing Red Cross nurses at the 1918 Liberty Day parade. Missouri History Museum.

Want to engage with history even more? Be sure to check out the various interactive stations located throughout the exhibit for the chance to check stats and biographies for the players from a historic 1941 baseball game, vote in the 1920 presidential election, and trace the devastation wrought by the 1927 tornado. You can even become a part of the exhibit by submitting your own panoramas of St. Louis today. Our team at the Missouri History Museum will be selecting the best of these submissions to appear in a short in-gallery film that shows off how St. Louisans continue to document their city through panoramic photography.

We’re thrilled to be able to bring you this exhibit and can’t wait for you to come in and experience these panoramas for yourself. Join us on September 2 for the big reveal!

—Adam Kloppe, Public Historian

Panoramas of the City sponsor thank-you