Missouri is headed into more than three years of celebrating its bicentennial. The first petition for statehood was presented to Congress 200 years ago this week, but it took years of national controversy before statehood came on Aug. 10, 1821, under the Missouri Compromise.

Many programs and events are in the works, looking back on 200 years of statehood. Gary Kremer, executive director of the State Historical Society of Missouri, said all of that comes down to one question.

“The question is this,” he said. “What does it mean to be a Missourian, and how has that meaning changed over the course of our history?”

Among the things that are planned:

• A bicentennial license plate becomes available in January 2019.

• A traveling exhibit, “Struggle for Statehood, 1818-1821,” opens this coming December at the State Capitol and goes around the state through December 2021.

• The State Historical Society of Missouri is planning an online Missouri Encyclopedia. Suggestions for topics are being taken now. Go to missouriencyclopedia.org.

• Curricula and lesson plans for teachers.

• The University of Missouri is to publish a multi-volume book on the state’s history.

• Elementary and middle school students are being asked for their pennies to help preserve some of the state’s founding documents. That starts in the coming weeks in a handful of school districts, including Kansas City and Raytown, and rolls out to others later.