In 1919, the Missouri General Assembly designated the first floor of the east wing of the Capitol as the Missouri Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall and placed it under the care of the Adjutant General's office. Two years later, in 1921, the Missouri Resources Museum was created on the first floor of the Capitol's west wing under the Resources Museum Commission, which was charged with the responsibility to collect and place on permanent exhibit examples of the products, flora and fauna of Missouri. The two museums were combined in 1923, and designated collectively as the Missouri State Museum under the management of the Resources Museum Commission.
The Missouri Department of Natural Resources' Division of State Parks took over the museum in 1978. The Missouri State Museum houses an impressive collection of exhibits that portray Missouri's cultural and natural history in its two main exhibit halls - the History Hall and the Resources Hall. There are also exhibits with changing artifacts in the Missouri Veterans Gallery and the Foundations Gallery (state government and the state Capitol). A series of traveling exhibits can be used as educational tools by schools, civic and other groups. Interpretive staff offers various educational programs on aspects of Missouri's natural and cultural history. More information on the museum's traveling and outreach programs can be found on its Educational Resources page.
The Missouri State Museum is responsible for a large collection of artifacts that consists of approximately 30,000 artifacts and objects from all aspects of Missouri cultural and natural history that have been collected since the museum's inception. The museum's collections include more than 130 Civil War flags and a large collection of World War I flags. Museum staff continues to conserve these fragile textiles and make them stable for display. More than 50 flags and banners have been conserved and framed for display as of 2020. To learn more about the museum’s flag conservation efforts, visit Flag Conservation at the Missouri State Museum.