Missouri History Hits the Road Aug. 1


Photo of the Southeast Explorer

Missouri geology and government, Lewis and Clark, and the Missouri Compromise are coming to a location near you this fall, courtesy the Southeast Explorer.


July 25, 2007 – Missouri geology and government, Lewis and Clark, and the Missouri Compromise are coming to a location near you this fall.

That’s because Southeast Missouri State University’s 38-foot long mobile museum, the Southeast Explorer, is preparing to hit the road for tours beginning Aug. 1 after staff have converted its exhibits focused on NASA and space exploration to a display featuring Missouri history.

The displays highlight Missouri’s first peoples, the French in Missouri, the Gateway to the West, the War within the State, transportation and transformation of the Bootheel.

The Southeast Explorer offers a rotating series of themed exhibits and interpretive programs on archaeology, NASA and Missouri history. Each display, which allows visitors to see and touch artifacts previously only available in place-bound museums, remains on the Explorer for six months.

Donna Rausch, outreach specialist, takes the Explorer on tour for approximately 80 days per exhibit. She does the driving and preventative maintenance, set-ups and take-downs, gives the presentations, and does the daily on-board cleaning, which means a lot of old fashioned elbow grease.  There are 20 display cases for visitors to view. With Rausch being a nationally certified interpreter and her love of educating others, she says she is looking forward to presenting the Missouri history exhibit. 

Staff members have spent the past two weeks removing items from the Explorer’s former NASA exhibit, moving them to a storage area in the basement of Memorial Hall, cleaning display cases, creating new exhibit labels and installing new items which have been in storage for the Missouri History exhibit.  Behind the scenes on the Southeast Explorer, staff members are changing out on-board videos which visitors may view, updating their Web site, and swapping out teacher and student resources related to the Missouri History exhibit.

Ellen Hahs, curator of education with the Rosemary Berkel and Harry L. Crisp II Southeast Missouri Regional Museum, says the Explorer is booked for school tours through December. In January, the Explorer’s exhibits will again be converted. Next up for the mobile museum, following the Missouri History exhibit, will be a display on Native Americans and Pre-Contact. A mailing will be going out to area schools in October to schedule tours on the Explorer from January to June, Hahs said. Programs are free to area schools.

Since the Southeast Explorer hit the roads of southeast Missouri in October 2004, more than 68,394 visitors have toured the facility, participating in 3,015 on-board presentations. During the past six months, more than 15,000 people visited the Explorer to view the NASA exhibit, Hahs said.

She said she will be giving a presentation about the Southeast Explorer to the Association of Midwest Museums at Mackinac Island, Mich., Sept. 25-28. Hahs says her presentation will focus on the Explorer’s mobile classroom, its educational exhibits and its successful outreach efforts.

For more information on the Southeast Explorer, visit http://www5.semo.edu/museum/education/Explorer.html or call (573) 651-2301.