Saint Louis Art Museum

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Saint Louis Art Museum
LocationForest Park, St. Louis Missouri
Coordinates38°38′22″N 90°17′40″W / 38.63944°N 90.29444°W / 38.63944; -90.29444Coordinates: 38°38′22″N 90°17′40″W / 38.63944°N 90.29444°W / 38.63944; -90.29444
Built for1904 World's Fair
Reference no.21
Saint Louis Art Museum is located in Forest Park (St. Louis)
Saint Louis Art Museum
Location within Forest Park
Interior of the museum as sketched in 1913 by Marguerite Martyn
St. Louis Art Museum, 2011
East Building, the new wing designed by British architect Sir David Chipperfield

The Saint Louis Art Museum is one of the principal U.S. art museums, with paintings, sculptures, cultural objects, and ancient masterpieces from all corners of the world. Its three-story building stands in Forest Park in St. Louis, Missouri, where it is visited by up to a half million people every year. Admission is free through a subsidy from the cultural tax district for St. Louis City and County.[1]

In addition to the featured exhibitions, the museum offers rotating exhibitions and installations. These include the Currents series, which features contemporary artists, as well as regular exhibitions of new media art and works on paper.[2]


The museum was founded in 1879[3] as the Saint Louis School and Museum of Fine Arts, an independent entity within Washington University in St. Louis, housed in a downtown building.[4] The building was originally built by Wayman Crow as a memorial to honor his son, Wayman Crow Jr. Crow employed Boston architects Peabody & Stearns to design the building located at 19th and Lucas Place (now Locust Street). The school, led by directory Halsey C. Ives, educated two generations of St. Louis artists and craftspeople and offered studio and art history classes supported by a museum collection. After the school moved to Washington University's campus and the museum moved to Forest Park, the building fell into disrepair and was eventually demolished in 1919.[5]

The museum moved after the 1904 World's Fair, also known as the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, to the Palace of Fine Arts, built for the fair from 1902 to 1903. The building was designed by architect Cass Gilbert, who took inspiration from the Baths of Caracalla in Rome, Italy.[6] The Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum remained part of Washington University, and the collection was lent to the Saint Louis Art Museum for several years.[7]

In 1908, the museum's first director, Halsey Cooley Ives, arranged for a municipal tax to support the museum.[8] The following year, the museum separated from Washington University and was renamed the City Art Museum. An organizing board was assigned to take control in 1912.[9]

During the 1950s, the museum added an extension to include an auditorium for films, concerts and lectures.

In 1971, efforts to secure the museum's financial future led voters in St. Louis City and County to approve the creation of the Metropolitan Zoological Park and Museum District (ZMD). This expanded the tax base for the 1908 tax to include St. Louis County.[10] In 1972, the museum was again renamed, to the Saint Louis Art Museum.[10]

Today, the museum is supported financially by the tax, donations from individuals and public associations, sales in the Museum Shop, and foundation support.[11]


The statue Apotheosis of St. Louis by Charles Henry Niehaus, created in 1903

Plans to expand the museum, which existed in the 1995 Forest Park Master Plan and the museum's 2000 Strategic Plan, began in earnest in 2005, when the museum board selected the British architect Sir David Chipperfield to design the expansion; Michel Desvigne was selected as landscape architect. The St. Louis-based firm, Hellmuth, Obata, and Kassabaum (HOK) was the architect of record to work with the construction team.

On November 5, 2007, museum officials released the design plans to the public and hosted public conversations about those plans. A model of the new building was displayed in the museum's Sculpture Hall throughout the construction project. In 2008, citing the declining state of the economy, the museum announced that it would delay the start of the expansion, whose cost was then estimated at $125 million.[12]

Construction began in 2009; the museum remained open.[13][14] The expansion added more than 224,000 square feet (20,800 m2) of gallery space, including an underground garage, within the lease lines of the property. Money for the project was raised through private gifts to the capital campaign from individuals, foundations and corporations, and from proceeds from the sale of tax-exempt bonds. The fundraising campaigned covered the $130-million cost of construction and a $31.2 million increase to the museum's endowment to support incremental costs of operating the larger facility. The expanded facility opened in the summer of 2013.


The collection of the Saint Louis Art Museum contains more than 34,000 objects dating from antiquity to the present. The collection is divided into nine areas:

  1. American
  2. Ancient and Egyptian
  3. Africa, Oceania, Americas
  4. Asian
  5. Decorative Arts and Design
  6. European to 1800
  7. Islamic
  8. Modern and Contemporary
  9. Prints, Drawings, and Photographs

The modern art collection includes works by the European masters Matisse, Gauguin, Monet, Picasso, Corrado Giaquinto, Giambattista Pittoni and Van Gogh. The museum's particularly strong collection of 20th-century German paintings includes the world's largest Max Beckmann collection, which includes Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery.[15] In recent years, the museum has been actively acquiring post-war German art to complement its Beckmanns, such as works by Joseph Beuys, Gerhard Richter, Martin Kippenberger and others.[13] The collection also includes Chuck Close's Keith (1970).[16]

The collections of Oceanic and Mesoamerican works, as well as handwoven Turkish rugs, are among the finest in the world. The museum holds the Egyptian mummy Amen-Nestawy-Nakht, and two mummies on loan from Washington University.[17] Its collection of American artists includes the largest U.S.-museum collection of paintings by George Caleb Bingham.[citation needed]

The collection contains at least six pieces that Nazis confiscated from their own museums as degenerate.[18] These include Max Beckmann’s “Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery” which came to the museum through a New York art dealer, Curt Valentin, who specialized in Nazi confiscations, and Matisse's “Bathers with a Turtle” which Joseph Pulitzer purchased at the Galerie Fischer auction held in the Grand Hôtel National, Lucerne, Switzerland, June 30, 1939.[18][19][20]

In the context of the museum's 2013 expansion, British artist Andy Goldsworthy created Stone Sea, a site-specific work for a narrow space between the old and new buildings. Twenty-five tightly packed, ten-foot-high arches made of native limestone rise in a sunken courtyard. The artist was inspired by the fact that the sedimentary rock was formed when the region was a shallow sea in Prehistoric times.[13]



  • (November 20, 2020–May 31, 2021) Buzz Spector: Alterations
  • (September 17, 2019–October 11, 2020) The Shape of Abstraction: Selections from the Ollie Collection
  • (December 13, 2019–November 22, 2020) Javanese Batik Textiles
  • (July 31, 2020–January 31, 2021) Currents 118: Elias Sime
  • (August 7–November 15, 2020) New Media Series—Martine Syms
  • (February 16–September 7, 2020) Millet and Modern Art: From Van Gogh to Dalí
  • (January 24–August 2, 2020) New Media Series–Sky Hopinka


  • (November 15, 2019–March 8, 2020) Currents 117: Dave Hullfish Bailey
  • (November 1, 2019–January 19, 2020) New Media Series–Clarissa Tossin
  • (October 20, 2019–January 12, 2020) Dutch Painting in the Age of Rembrandt from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
  • (July 21–September 15, 2019) Paul Gauguin: The Art of Invention
  • (May 31–October 27, 2019) The Bauhaus and its Legacy: Oskar Schlemmer's Triadic Ballet
  • (May 24–December 1, 2019) Printing the Pastoral: Visions of the Countryside in 18th-Century Europe
  • (April 26–August 25, 2019) Poetics of the Everyday: Amateur Photography, 1890–1970
  • (March 17–June 9, 2019) Rachel Whiteread
  • (February 22–May 27, 2019) New Media Series–Oliver Laric
  • (February 22–May 27, 2019) Currents 116: Oliver Laric


  • (December 14, 2018–May 5, 2019) Southwest Weavings: 800 Years of Artistic Exchange
  • (November 30, 2018–March 31, 2019) Printing Abstraction
  • (November 11, 2018–February 3, 2019) Graphic Revolution: American Prints 1960 to Now
  • (October 19, 2018–February 10, 2019) Kehinde Wiley: Saint Louis
  • (October 5, 2018–February 17, 2019) New Media Series–Renée Green
  • (June 15–November 25, 2018) Balance and Opposition in Ancient Peruvian Textiles
  • (April 20–July 15, 2018) Currents 115: Jennifer Bornstein
  • (April 20–September 30, 2018) New Media Series: Cyprian Gaillard
  • (March 25–September 9, 2018) Sunken Cities: Egypt’s Lost Worlds
  • (March 30–September 30, 2018) Chinese Buddhist Art, 10th–15th Centuries


  • (December 22–May 28, 2018) Greek Island Embroideries
  • (November 5–January 21, 2018) Thomas Struth: Nature & Politics
  • (November 17, 2017–February 4, 2018) Currents 114: Matt Saunders
  • (November 17–April 15, 2018) New Media Series—Ben Thorp Brown
  • (September 15–March 25, 2018) Fired Up: Ink Painting and Contemporary Ceramics from Japan
  • (August 11, 2017–January 28, 2018) A Century of Japanese Prints
  • (July 14–November 12, 2017) New Media Series: Amy Granat
  • (June 25–September 17, 2017) Reigning Men: Fashion in Menswear, 1715-2015
  • (May 26–November 26, 2017) Cross-Pollination: Flowers in 18th-Century European Porcelain and Textiles
  • (April 1–June 25, 2017) Currents 113: Shimon Attie Lost in Space (After Huck)
  • (April 21–September 4, 2017) The Hats of Stephen Jones
  • (March 24–June 25, 2017) New Media Series: Shimon Attie
  • (March 3–July 30, 2017) Learning to See: Renaissance and Baroque Masterworks from the Phoebe Dent Weil and Mark S. Weil Collection
  • (March 10–September 4, 2017) In the Realm of Trees: Photographs, Paintings, and Scholar’s Objects from the Collection
  • (February 12–May 7, 2017) Degas, Impressionism, and the Paris Millinery Trade


  • (December 16–March 19, 2017) New Media Series: Rodney McMillian
  • (October 16, 2016–January 8, 2017) Conflicts of Interest: Art and War in Modern Japan
  • (September 2–December 11) New Media Series: Dara Birnbaum
  • (September 9–April 30, 2017) Textiles: Politics and Patriotism
  • (August 5, 2016–February 12, 2017) Impressions of War
  • (August 19, 2016–February 12, 2017) Japanese Painting and Calligraphy: Highlights from the Collection
  • (June 19–September 11, 2016) Self-Taught Genius: Treasures from the American Folk Art Museum
  • (April 1–August 21, 2016) From Caravans to Courts: Textiles from the Silk Road
  • (March 6–May 8, 2016) The Carpet and the Connoisseur: The James F. Ballard Collection of Oriental Rugs
  • (March 24–June 19, 2016) Currents 112: Andréa Stanislav: Convergence Infinité
  • (March 11–August 14, 2016) Real and Imagined Landscapes in Chinese Art
  • (January 29–July 17, 2016) A Decade of Collecting Prints, Drawings, and Photographs


  • (September 18, 2015–March 20, 2016) Blow-Up: Graphic Abstraction in 1960s Design
  • (November 8, 2015–January 31, 2016) St. Louis Modern
  • (November 6, 2015–March 13, 2016) New Media Series—Ana Mendieta: Alma, Silueta en Fuego
  • (October 23, 2015–February 14, 2016) Currents 111: Steven and William Ladd: Scouts or Sports?
  • (September 4, 2015–March 6, 2016) Journey to the Interior: Ink Painting from Japan
  • (July 17–November 1, 2015) New Media Series—Alex Prager: Face in the Crowd
  • (July 31, 2015–January 3, 2016) The Artist and the Modern Studio
  • (June 28–September 27, 2015) Senufo: Art and Identity in West Africa
  • (April 8–July 12, 2015) Currents 110: Mariam Ghani
  • (April 17–July 19, 2015) Beyond Bosch: The Afterlife of a Renaissance Master in Print
  • (March 20–September 7, 2015) Adorning Self and Space: West African Textiles
  • (February 22–May 17, 2015) Navigating the West: George Caleb Bingham and the River
  • (February 27–August 30, 2015) Creatures Great and Small: Animals in Japanese Art
  • (February 7–September 20, 2015) Thomas Cole’s Voyage of Life


  • (December 12, 2014–May 10, 2015) Vija Celmins: "Intense Realism"
  • (November 21, 2014–April 5, 2015) Scenic Wonder: An Early American Journey Down the Hudson River
  • (November 21, 2014–April 5, 2015) Nicholas Nixon: 40 Years of The Brown Sisters
  • (October 12, 2014–January 5, 2015) Atua: Sacred Gods from Polynesia
  • (October 31, 2014–March 8, 2015) Currents 109: Nick Cave
  • (September 12, 2014–February 22, 2015) Calligraphy in Chinese and Japanese Art
  • (August 1–October 19, 2014) New Media Series—Janaina Tsch¨pe: The Ocean Within
  • (August 29–November 2, 2014) Louis IX: King, Saint, Namesake
  • (July 4, 2014–February 22, 2015) Facets of the Three Jewels: Tibetan Buddhist Art from the Collections of George E. Hibbard and the Saint Louis Art Museum
  • (June 20–December 7, 2014) Brett Weston: Photographs
  • (May 24–September 14, 2014) Tragic and Timeless: The Art of Mark Rothko
  • (April 11–July 27, 2014) Currents 108: Won Ju Lim
  • (March 16–July 14, 2014) Impressionist France: Visions of Nation from Le Gray to Monet
  • (March 28–September 7, 2014) Sight Lines: Richard Serra’s Drawings for Twain
  • (February 26–August 10, 2014) Anything but Civil: Kara Walker’s Vision of the Old South
  • (February 7–September 7, 2014) Flowers of the Four Seasons in Chinese and Japanese Art
  • (January 10–March 30, 2014) New Media Series — Marco Brambilla: Evolution (Megaplex)
  • (January 24–June 15, 2014) Life Cycles: Isabella Kirkland’s Taxa
  • (January 21–June 22, 2014) Mother Earth, Father Sky: Textiles from the Navajo World


  • (November 8, 2013–February 16, 2014) The Weight of Things: Photographs by Paul Strand and Emmet Gowin [21]
  • (October 4, 2013–February 2, 2014) Chiura Obata: Four Paintings, Four Moods
  • (September 27, 2013–January 5, 2014) Currents 107: Renata Stih & Frieder Schnock [22]
  • (June 29–September 2, 2013) Yoko Ono: Wish Tree
  • (June 29, 2013–January 19, 2014) Encounters Along the Missouri River: the 1858 Sketchbooks of Charles Ferdinand Wimar
  • (June 29, 2013 –January 26, 2014) Postwar German Art in the Collection
  • (June 29, 2013–January 26, 2014) A New View: Contemporary Art
  • (May 3–September 8, 2013) New Media Series—Hiraki Sawa: Migration
  • (April 26–October 27, 2013) Mantegna to Man Ray: Six Explorations in Prints, Drawings, and Photographs
  • (March 5, 2013–January 12, 2014) Highlights of the Textile Collection
  • (February 8–April 28, 2013) New Media Series—William E. Jones: "Killed"
  • (January 18–June 14, 2013) Focus on the Collection—Edward Curtis: Visions of Native America


  • (November 2, 2012–January 27, 2013) New Media Series—James Nares: Street
  • (October 21, 2012–January 20, 2013) Federico Barocci: Renaissance Master
  • (September 14, 2012–January 13, 2013) Focus on the Collection: Drawn in Copper, Italian Prints in the Age of Barocci
  • (July 13–October 21, 2012) New Media Series—Laleh Khorramian: Water Panics in the Sea
  • (June 8–September 3, 2012) Restoring an American Treasure:The Panorama of the Monumental Grandeur of the Mississippi Valley
  • (June 15–December 31, 2012) Plants and Flowers in Chinese Paintings and Ceramics
  • (May 4–August 26, 2012) Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War, (Annotated) by Kara Walker
  • (April 6–July 1, 2012) Currents 106: Chelsea Knight
  • (February 19–May 13, 2012) An Orchestrated Vision: The Theater of Contemporary Photography
  • (January 13–March 25, 2012) New Media Series—Teresa Hubbard/Alexander Birchler: Single Wide
  • (January 13–April 8, 2012) At the Crossroads: Exploring Black Identity in Contemporary Art
  • (January 20–April 29, 2012) The First Act: Staged Photography Before 1980


  • (October 2, 2011–January 22, 2012) Monet’s Water Lilies [23]
  • (October 14, 2011–January 15, 2012) Focus on the Collection: Expressionist Landscape
  • (September 9, 2011–January 8, 2012) New Media Series—Guido van der Werve: Number Twelve: Variations on a Theme
  • (July 15–October 9, 2011) Focus on the Collection: Francesco Clemente’s High Fever [24]
  • (June 12–August 21, 2011) Restoring an American Treasure: The Panorama of the Monumental Grandeur of the Mississippi Valley
  • (June 17–September 5, 2011) New Media Series—Martha Colburn: Triumph of the Wild [25]
  • (April 8–July 31, 2011) Currents 105: Ian Monroe
  • (April 15–July 10, 2011) Focus on the Collection: Engraving in Renaissance Germany
  • (February 13–May 8, 2011) Fiery Pool: The Maya and the Mythic Sea [26]
  • (February 25–June 19, 2011) Visual Musing: Prints by William Kentridge [27]
  • (January 14–April 10, 2011) Aaron Douglas
  • (January 14–April 10, 2011) Glimpsing History through Art: Selections from the Charles and Rosalyn Lowenhaupt Collection of Japanese Prints
  • (January 28–June 5, 2011) New Media Series—William Kentridge: Two Films [28]


  • (October 10, 2010–January 2, 2011) Joe Jones: Painter of the American Scene
  • (October 22, 2010–January 16, 2011) New Media Series—Pae White: Dying Oak
  • (September 24, 2010–January 9, 2011) Portrait of Depression-Era America [29]
  • (July 16–October 17, 2010) New Media Series—Laurent Grasso, The Birds
  • (June 20–September 6, 2010) Bill Viola: Visitation [30]
  • (June 20–September 6, 2010) The Mourners: Tomb Sculptures from the Court of Burgundy
  • (June 25–September 19, 2010) Form in Translation: Sculptors Making Prints and Drawings
  • (April 9–July 11, 2010) Currents 104: Bruce Yonemoto [31]
  • (March 12–June 20, 2010) Lee Friedlander [32]
  • (February 5–April 4, 2010) New Media Series | Marc Swanson & Neil Gust, Dark Room [33]
  • (February 14–May 9, 2010) African Ceremonial Cloths: Selections from the Collection


  • Art classes for children, adults, and teachers. Each costs about $10–$200.
  • Richardson Memorial Library, one of the largest centers for the history and documentation of art in the Midwest, holding more than 100,000 volumes and the museum's archives. Both can be searched through their online catalog.[2][34]
  • Resource Center, a loan collection of educational materials circulated through the museum's nine satellite resource centers in Missouri.[2]
  • Free guided tours for groups led by trained docents.[2]


  1. ^ Saint Louis Art Museum Visitor Guide (2007)
  2. ^ a b c d Saint Louis Art Museum Web Site
  3. ^ "MUSEUM FOUNDATION". St Louis Art Museum. Retrieved November 15, 2018.
  4. ^ Saint Louis Art Museum Handbook of the Collection (2004), p. 8
  5. ^ St. Louis Public Library. "The St. Louis School and Museum of Fine Arts – Wellspring of St. Louis Arts". St. Louis Public Library. Retrieved September 30, 2016.
  6. ^ Saint Louis Art Museum, An Architectural History (1987), p. 8
  7. ^ "About the collection | Kemper Art Museum". Retrieved 2015-12-11.
  8. ^ Stevens, Walter B. Page 30
  9. ^ Saint Louis Art Museum Handbook of the Collection (2004), p. 10
  10. ^ a b Saint Louis Art Museum, An Architectural History, (1987), Page 26
  11. ^ Saint Louis Art Museum Handbook of the Collection (2004), pp. 4–16
  12. ^ David Itzkoff ( November 6, 2008), In Tough Times, St. Louis Museum Delays Expansion New York Times.
  13. ^ a b c Javier Pes (June 20, 2013), A ‘quiet and reserved’ new wing for Saint Louis Art Museum Archived 2013-06-30 at the Wayback Machine The Art Newspaper.
  14. ^ "Saint Louis Art Museum: Expansion". Retrieved 2012-10-14.
  15. ^ "Press release: New book will examine Saint Louis Art Museum's collection of paintings by Max Beckmann".
  16. ^ Saint Louis Art Museum, Handbook of the Collection (2004), p. 299
  17. ^ Washington University of Saint Louis, Student Life, 2006
  18. ^ a b Hunn,David. "How a French masterpiece stolen by Nazis came to St. Louis" [1] St. Louis Post-Dispatch, February 22, 2014
  19. ^ Stein,Laurie."The History and Reception of Matisse's Bathers with Turtle in Germany, 1908-1939" St. Louis: The Saint Louis Art Museum, 1998
  20. ^
  21. ^ Torno, Jean Paul. "'The Weight of Things'". St. Louis Post Dispatch. Retrieved 6 September 2013.
  22. ^ RUSSELL, STEFENE. "First Stop: "Currents 107: Renata Stih & Frieder Schnock"". St. Louis Magazine. Retrieved 15 November 2013.
  23. ^ "St. Louis Art Museum curator revisits Monet's 'Water Lilies'". St. Louis Post Dispatch. Retrieved 2 October 2011.
  24. ^ "Artful Happenings". The Healthy Planet.
  25. ^ Willis, Holly. "Martha Colburn: Triumph of the Wild". KCET. Retrieved 11 February 2011.
  26. ^ "Saint Louis Art Museum Presents Fiery Pool: The Maya and the Mythic Sea". Art Fix Daily. Retrieved 6 January 2011.
  27. ^ MOYNIHAN, MIRIAM. "St. Louis Art Museum shows series of Kentridge prints". St. Louis Dispatch. Retrieved 25 Feb 2011.
  28. ^ "Media Series by William Kentridge at St. Louis Museum". Art Daily.
  29. ^ "Portrait of Depression-Era America". St. Louis Art Museum.
  30. ^ Wilson, Calvin. "Artist Bill Viola explores life, death in video installation". St. Louis Today. Retrieved 25 June 2010.
  31. ^ Fisher, David. "Currents 104: Bruce Yonemoto". Highsnobiety. Retrieved 4 May 2010.
  32. ^ Baran, Jessica. "Featured Review: Lee Friedlander". Riverfront Times.
  33. ^ "Marc Swanson". Saatchi Gallery.
  34. ^ "Richardson Library Books & Periodicals". Retrieved 2012-10-14.

More information[edit]

  • Saint Louis Art Museum 2004, Saint Louis Art Museum Handbook of the Collection, Saint Louis Art Museum, Saint Louis, Mo.
  • Saint Louis Art Museum 1987, Saint Louis Art Museum, An Architectural History, Fall Bulletin, Saint Louis Art Museum, Saint Louis, MO.
  • Stevens, Walter B. (ed.) 1915, Halsey Cooley Ives, LL.D. 1847–1911; Founder of the St. Louis School of Fine Arts; First Director of the City Art Museum of St. Louis, Ives Memorial Society, Saint Louis, MO
  • Visitor Guide (brochure), Saint Louis Museum of Art, 2005.
  • Washington University of Saint Louis, Student Life, 2006, Buried Treasure:University Owned Mummy Kept at Saint Louis Museum.

External links[edit]