Friends of the Missouri Governor's Mansion (FMGM) is marking its 40th anniversary with a new name, a redesigned website and a new interactive children's website.
"We feel like for our 40th anniversary, new and innovative technology is our gift back to the community," said Laura Bennett-Smith, executive director of FMGM.
The organization - formerly the Missouri Mansion Preservation - welcomes visitors from across the state, nation and world to the governor's mansion for tours and special events.
Bennett-Smith said the organization has nearly 75 local men and women who volunteer as docents and dress in replica costumes to give tours of the Mansion.
"We love to see the children's eyes light up when they come to the Mansion, and they leave taking a journey to the past," she said. "The reward is incredible to spark a child's interest in art, history and a genuine love for their state.
While the organization's newly redesigned website has already launched at missourimansion.org, a new interactive children's website will debut in March and will allow the children who can't make it to the capital city with their school classes or their families to gain the educational experience of visiting the Governor's Mansion.
The website - titled "Passport to the Past: Missouri Arts and History Exploration - will feature the portraits of more than 50 first ladies, as well as a floor plan of the Mansion with embedded videos of docents, First Lady Georganne Wheeler Nixon and local high school students talking about each room and feature.
Anheuser-Busch, AT&T and State Farm provided resources to help the organization launch the program.
"It has truly been my honor to collaborate with so many volunteers and donors who are invested in the stewardship of one of Missouri's historic treasures, a true living history," Bennett-Smith said.
The website will also include a resource guide for educators, which Bennett-Smith said will "compliment core standards for art and history."
Jeanette Dulle, who started volunteering with FMGM in 1974, said she has seen the organization evolve and the 40th anniversary shows the strength of its volunteers.
"The Mansion represents so much to us, and really is a symbol of our city and state," she said.
In addition to the children's website launch this month, FMGM is hosting "Manners at the Missouri Governor's Mansion" June 9-12. The one-day sessions are from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. For $80, the sessions will allow children to learn verbal and written communication skills; table setting and etiquette; and cellphone, texting and mobile etiquette. A morning reception and a four-course meal with one adult is also included.
For more information or to register for the event, visit www.missourimansion.org.