Saint Louis Art Museum
The Saint Louis Art Museum is one of the principal U.S. art museums, 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. Located in Forest Park in St. Louis Missouri, the museum's three-story building was constructed as the Palace of the Fine Arts for the 1904 World's Fair, also known as the Louisiana Purchase Exposition. Architect Cass Gilbert was inspired by the Baths of Caracalla in Rome, Italy. The British architect Sir David Chipperfield was selected to design a major addition to the museum. It will add 224,000 square feet (20,800 m 2), including aboveground gallery space and underground parking. Construction began in 2009, with completion planned for 2012. Michel Desvigne has been selected as landscape architect. In addition to the featured exhibitions, the Museum offers rotating exhibitions and installations. These include the Currents series, which showcases contemporary artists, as well as regular exhibitions of textiles, new media art, and works on paper.

The Saint Louis Art Museum began as the Saint Louis School and Museum of Fine Arts, an independent entity within Washington University in St. Louis. Originally housed in a building in downtown St. Louis, the Museum moved to its current home in Forest Park after the 1904 World's Fair. In 1909 the museum separated from Washington University and was renamed the City Art Museum of Saint Louis. An organizing board was assigned to take control in 1912. 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 to the creation of the Metropolitan Zoological Park and Museum District (SMD). This doubled the tax rate that supported the institutions that Halsey Cooley Ives, the first Director of the Museum, had arranged in 1908. County residents began paying the tax as well, so the museum's name was changed again, to the Saint Louis Art Museum. Donations from individuals and public associations has allowed the museum to expand its collection of paintings, sculptures, modern art and ancient masterpieces from various continents.

Plans to expand the museum were included in the museum's 2000 Strategic Plan and the 1995 Forest Park Master Plan. The expansion will include more than 224,000 square feet (20,800 m 2) of gallery space, including an underground garage, within the lease lines of the property. The expansion is expected to cost $125 million, and construction funds are being raised separately. In 2005, the museum board selected the noted British architect David Chipperfield to design the expansion; Michel Desvigne was appointed landscape architect. The St. Louis-based firm, Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum ( HOK) is the architect of record to work with the construction team. On November 5, 2007, museum officials released the design plans to the public and had public conversations about it. Models have been on display at the museum. The project officially broke ground in early 2010 and will be completed in 2012. The museum will remain open during construction. (See also the museum web site's expansion page.)

The collection of the Saint Louis Art Museum contains more than 30,000 art works from antiquity to the present. The collection is divided into eleven areas: African American Ancient and Islamic Asian Contemporary Decorative Arts and Design Early European Modern Oceanic Pre-Columbian and American Indian Prints, Drawings, and Photographs The modern art collection includes works by the European masters Matisse, Gauguin, Monet, Picasso, and Van Gogh. The particularly good collection of 20th-century German paintings includes the world's largest Max Beckmann collection. The museum has Chuck Close's Keith (1970). The collections of Oceanic and Pre-Columbian 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. Its collection of American artists includes the largest U.S.-museum collection of paintings by George Caleb Bingham.

  • Art classes for children, adults, and teachers. Each costs about $20-$300.
  • 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.
  • Resource Center, a loan collection of educational materials circulated through the Museum's nine satellite resource centers in Missouri.
  • Free guided tours by trained docents for groups.


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  • S Craig Hufford
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    This institution, open to the public for free (excepting special exhibits), is in Forest Park, a park nearly twice the size of New York's Central Park. Extensive renovations and additions in 2010 and 2011.
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