Appreciate Art in the Gateway City
St. Louis’ artistic flare is on display at museums and galleries of all sizes and subject matter. The magnificent Saint Louis Art Museum, originally built as a “palace” for the 1904 “Meet Me in St. Louis” World’s Fair, showcase masterpieces from the Renaissance, Impressionism, Asia, and a world-renowned collection of Pre-Columbian art. Its collection of modern art has become one of the largest and most distinguished components of its holdings. Bonus: the museum offers free general admission.
Contemporary art is duly honored in the Gateway City. Contemplate the works on view at two of St. Louis’ internationally recognized art institutions: The Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis and the Pulitzer Arts Foundation. These non-collecting entities are neighbors in St. Louis’ Grand Center arts and entertainment district. The Contemporary features changing exhibits of art being created today. The Pulitzer, designed by award-winning architect Tadao Ando, offers visitors an environment in which they can appreciate the relationship between contemporary art and architecture. Works of art ranging from Picasso and Monet to Ellsworth Kelly and Andy Warhol adorn the intriguingly designed space.
One of Grand Center’s oldest arts institutions is Portfolio Gallery, which has dedicated itself to showing local, regional, and national African-American artists since 1989. Similarly, Lois Ingrum’s eponymous Washington Avenue gallery has been open for 22 years. There have been black galleries popping up fairly regularly since, including Salon 53, which photographer and curator Freida L. Wheaton opened in her historic house in 2007. In 2013, Wheaton proposed joining forces and the Alliance of Black Art Galleries was born.
Citygarden is an oasis in the heart of downtown. Opened in 2009, the outdoor space blends lush plantings and internationally renowned sculpture with the delights of water, stone, architecture and design. Surrounded by no fences or gates, and with no admission fee, Citygarden is completely open and accessible to the public 365 days a year. On display are twenty-four pieces of sculpture by internationally renowned artists, including Fernand Leger, Mark di Suvero, Keith Haring, Martin Puryear, Jim Dine, Tony Smith, and Aristide Maillol. More than 80 works of contemporary art also meets nature within the 105-acre Laumeier Sculpture Park in St. Louis County. Beautiful sculpture enhances the natural wonders on view at the world-renowned Missouri Botanical Garden, one of the top three public gardens in the world.
A few blocks from the serenity of Citygarden, you can step into the anything-but serene world of City Museum, a museum made entirely from recycled pieces. The museum building itself is recycled having started life as a shoe manufacturing factory and warehouse. Items that would have become landfill now fill the floors of the quirky and innovative warehouse of artistic fun. Remnants of old buildings were transformed into the museum’s gift shop, retired heating coils from area breweries provide access to ceiling-high habit trails for kids and adults. The in-house circus troupe performs beneath a Big Top festooned with old neckties and CD disks. City Museum proves that everything old can be new again.
One of the largest collections of mosaic art in the Western Hemisphere graces the walls, floors and ceilings of the spectacular Byzantine-Romanesque Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis. The Museum of Contemporary Religious Art (MOCRA) is the world’s first museum of interfaith contemporary art. The city’s great universities share collections with visitors at the Saint Louis University Museum of Art, the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum at Washington University, the St. Louis Mercantile Library and Gallery Two Ten at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
Dog lovers should trot to The American Kennel Club Museum of the Dog, a fine arts museum devoted to man’s best friend within St. Louis County’s Queeny Park. Make reservations to tour an outstanding Frank Lloyd Wright Usonian house outfitted with original Wright-designed furnishings located moments from Queeny Park.