The State Historical Society of Missouri’s new $35 million facility designed to encourage the study of the state’s history is taking shape in Columbia.

Construction of the Center for Missouri Studies is nearing completion, and the society’s leaders are confident that the facility will open on schedule this August, the Columbia Daily Tribune reported.

The society began the project to move out of its current Columbia Research Center in the Ellis Library roughly a decade ago. Expanding into a larger space will provide the public better with access to artwork, newspapers, archival documents, maps and photography, according to the society’s officials.

The new center’s construction is now far enough along that the society announced it will close the Columbia Research Center on April 19.

Gerald Hirsch, the society’s senior associate executive director, said staff will be able to collaborate more easily at the news center than in the cramped quarters in Ellis Library.

The climate-controlled storage room for the society’s manuscript collection will sit next to a pair of public classrooms in the new center, which will also hold an event space that can host about 180 people.

“That’s one of the biggest shortcomings we have in our current space,” said Gary Kremer, the society’s executive director. “No public programming space.”

The center was designed with two entrances to serve as a place of convergence where experts are welcome to study and the public is welcome to learn, Kremer said.

The shape of the building was designed to evoke the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers that carried the first French settlers to the area, and to connect the center to downtown Columbia.

“To the degree we can, we’re trying to evoke that feeling of confluence in this building,” Kremer said. “A connecting point as the premier institution for the study of Missouri history.”

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