The upper floors of the Eco Arch museum will house the National Museum of Cultures, honoring all who have called the East St. Louis area home from pre-history to the present day. Archeological sites will be replicated so that artifacts can be viewed in situ as well as in display cases.
There will be special emphasis on the Mississippian culture which once held the site sacred. Exhibits connecting the area to the Cahokia Historical Site as well as displays of the many African American contributions to local and national culture by such significant artists as Katherine Dunham, Josephine Baker, Miles Davis and Ike and Tina Turner and numerous others.
In homage to the vibrant local art heritage, the structure will also feature a performing arts center and a Dunham Academy. The great lawn amphitheater of the Eco Arch will be oriented toward the Arch and St. Louis. The museum building will open to East St. Louis, from where it takes the inspiration for its exhibited content.
The East St. Louis riverfront has long needed a durable cultural foundation in which the entire community, black and white, could see and understand the enduring legacy of African Americans. This history has a cultural richness that can make East St. Louis distinguished and proud. Undoubtedly it will generate the sort of national and international attention long overdue. In a way, similar to the Native American exhibits, highlighting the African American artistic experience will serve as a first step in atoning for the area’s long history of racial inequality.