Compelling collections, outdoor sculptures, emotive performances and more make up the vibrant arts scene in St. Louis. From downtown to Forest Park to Grand Center, you’re sure to find an exhibition or show that will leave an impression.
Explore upcoming arts events in St. Louis on our events calendar.
City Museum tests the boundaries of art. Housed in a 600,000-square-foot former shoe company warehouse, this unique attraction is as much a playground as it is a museum. Exhibits consist largely of repurposed architectural and industrial objects, from broken tiles to safety deposit boxes to stainless steel buffet pans. Other curious collections feature pancake art, objects found in outhouses, Louis Sullivan architecture and George Dehil’s taxidermy butterflies, moths and insects. While you’re here, you can also climb into a bow whale’s mouth, rocket down a 10-story slide, navigate an underground tunnel system and write with the world’s largest pencil.
The Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (CAM) aims to create meaningful engagement with today’s most relevant and innovative art. Not having a permanent collection allows the museum to adapt and respond to the global art world as well as the local community. Free for all, CAM is also a safe gathering place, where you can reflect on the world around you and connect to the most salient issues of our time.
Run by the Kranzberg Arts Foundation, High Low is a literary café that revolves around a 600-square-foot gallery space. Featuring modern gallery lighting and professional hanging systems, the space is open for exhibitions by artists and organizations. Enjoy a made-to-order drink from Blueprint Coffee while you explore the current show. Then, head outside to see The Walls Off Washington, a collection of bright, uplifting murals – and a source of civic pride.
At Laumeier Sculpture Park, you can enjoy more than 60 sculptures al fresco. Meandering along the walking trail through the 105-acre, open-air museum and sculpture park, you get a close-up view of a huge eyeball, a larger-than-life deer and a pile of massive, crumpled cylinders. You can even walk, climb or sit on some of the large-scale pieces. Laumeier Sculpture Park also offers rotating exhibitions for a consistently fresh experience. Like so many of the magical places in St. Louis, it’s free and open to the public.
Established in 1881 as the St. Louis School and Museum of Fine Arts, the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum is one of the oldest teaching museums in the country. Today, it continues its legacy of acquiring leading contemporary art that represents major international aesthetics. Recent acquisitions include works by Franz Ackermann, Cosima von Bonin, Olafur Eliasson, Edward Joseph Ruscha IV and Wolfgang Tillmans. If you’re interested, the museum offers public tours, which cover a variety of topics, on Saturdays.
Saint Louis University’s Museum of Contemporary Religious Art (MOCRA) is the first museum in the U.S. to bring an interfaith focus to contemporary art. Through exhibitions, collections and educational programs, MOCRA explores and showcases the various ways that contemporary artists engage with religious and spiritual dimensions. Facilitating personal discovery, inspiration and creativity, MOCRA also contributes to a wider culture of interfaith encounters and conversations.
Among The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and The Getty in Los Angeles, the Pulitzer Arts Foundation in St. Louis ranks as one of the 27 best museums in the U.S. according to Travel + Leisure. The Pulitzer houses gripping modern art in an arresting, mega-modern structure that was designed by acclaimed architect Tadao Ando as a way to create a dialogue with the works inside. Visit the museum to see its permanent collection along with temporary exhibitions.
Travel across time and culture at the Saint Louis Art Museum. Boasting one of the country’s leading comprehensive collections, the free museum in Forest Park inspires discovery and elevates the human spirit. Artworks by Max Beckmann, Georgia O’Keeffe, Norman Lewis, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso and Kehinde Wiley stand out, but the museum also offers thought-provoking temporary exhibitions ranging from native art to French landscapes and global textiles to ancient armor.
One of the best university art museums in the U.S., the Saint Louis University Museum of Art encompasses an impressive permanent collection of works by modern masters. Pop art by Andy Warhol, avant-garde glass by Dale Chihuly, paradoxical pieces by Roy Lichtenstein, abstract portraits from Chuck Close and more sit inside the stunning Beaux-Arts building, which dates to the turn of the 20th century.
Since 1886, the St. Louis Artists’ Guild has contributed significantly to the arts scene in St. Louis. Comprised of almost 500 members, the guild runs an art gallery in Clayton, where local artists can learn, share ideas and test their talents among peers and professionals in competitive exhibitions. For more than a century, most professional artists in St. Louis have received their first recognition through these exhibitions. You might also recognize the names of some distinguished artists who have been associated with the St. Louis Artists’ Guild, including Max Beckmann, George Caleb Bingham and Charles Eames.
Founded in 1846, the St. Louis Mercantile Library has always considered art as an essential part of its cultural and educational mission. Over the years, it’s developed a significant permanent collection of paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures, decorative art and folk art, which complement the library’s archival and manuscript holdings. The art provides visual documentation of the physical and cultural developments of our city, state and nation, and the St. Louis Mercantile Library continues to collect, preserve and exhibit art from artists who have made Missouri their home.
This immersive art lounge serves creative cocktails alongside high-fidelity audiovisuals. Indoor exhibitions rotate, and outside, you’ll find The Walls Off Washington, a new art initiative by the Kranzberg Arts Foundation that features striking murals, including those by local artists Cbabi Bayoc and Simiya Sudduth.
Home to 14 resident artists, Soulard Art Gallery is a hot spot of local art. At the nonprofit co-op art gallery, visitors can marvel at locally made paintings, sculptures, pottery and functional art, among other creations, and everything you see is for sale. The resident artists stay the same, but the artwork changes and evolves, making for a unique experience every time you walk through the door. The show in the main gallery space also changes, as themed exhibitions come and go every five weeks.
Experience fine art, live jazz, artisanal cuisine and handcrafted cocktails under one roof. The Dark Room at The Grandel is a nonprofit concept designed to enhance community engagement, encourage conversation and inspire ideas while supporting St. Louis’ expanding artistic community. Operated by the Kranzberg Arts Foundation, The Dark Room’s unique gallery space spotlights emerging artists from across the country, while The Grandel’s stage welcomes some of the best musicians in St. Louis.
For 20 years, Third Degree Glass Factory has worked to build a community around glass art. In the gallery, you can shop for glass that fits your style – everything is handmade locally. The facility also hosts private training sessions, in which you can work with the fluid, molten material. “It’s so dynamic,” co-founder Douglas Auer says, “and it’s really captivating – which is a good thing because if you don’t pay attention, that glowing mass will just drool onto the floor.” If you’re not ready for a hands-on experience, Third Degree Glass Factory also holds open houses on the third Friday of every month, where you can get a better feel for glass art. The activities and offerings vary, but the Third Degree team always shows guests a good time.
Citygarden is a perfect pit stop between visits to the Gateway Arch and Busch Stadium. The downtown oasis includes conversation-starting sculptures, lush plant life, rain gardens, dancing fountains and a 180-foot-long shallow pool with a six-foot-tall waterfall where you can cool off in the summer.
A new art initiative by the Kranzberg Arts Foundation, The Walls Off Washington is an inspirational backdrop for the Grand Center Arts District. You can enter The Walls through Sophie’s Artist Lounge at 3333 Washington Ave. and tour the outdoor murals, beginning with Lift As You Climb, a vibrant mural by Derrick Adams that depicts eye-catching figures helping each other climb colorful ladders to the top of the building. Other highlights of the project include J’Ai Deux Amours by C215, in which St. Louis native Josephine Baker wears beads and an endearing smile; The Bear by Burlesque of North America, which features strong symbols of St. Louis; and Cave Lady Vs T-Rex, which delights kids and adults alike.
Art is everywhere in St. Louis. Sculptures, murals, fountains, mosaics and memorials enrich our streets and parks and illustrate a wide range of innovative concepts, projects and programs. Discover more public art on the Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis website.
This 202-seat, proscenium-style theater hosts everything from one-woman shows to large-cast musicals to film screenings throughout the year. Check its online events calendar to see which artists and arts organizations will be performing during your visit.
Founded in 1976, the St. Louis Black Repertory Company is committed to producing, reimagining and commissioning work written by Black playwrights, creating opportunities for new voices. “We aim to heighten the social, cultural and educational awareness of our community,” Ron Himes, founder and producing director of The Black Rep, says. “Everything we do is grounded in that goal. With every season, with every lineup, we look for work that speaks to contemporary issues; we look for new ways to learn about history and celebrate our rich culture. That’s the driving force, which allows The Black Rep to lift up new voices and give young actors a stage to showcase their talents.” The Black Rep offers some of the best theater in the country, and a lot of its productions can’t be seen anywhere else. Previous productions include The African Company Presents Richard III; Dontrell, Who Kissed The Sea; The Light; Behind the Sheet; and Eubie!. Its season runs from September through May.
Employing the best musical theater artists from across the country, STAGES St. Louis has gained a reputation for excellence. It’s committed to preserving and advancing the art form of musical theater through powerful productions, community involvement and inclusive education. At its Performing Arts Academy, the region’s only year-round arts school with a comprehensive curriculum run by a professional theater company, STAGES educates thousands of students every year, and with each new season, STAGES astounds audiences. Its season runs from June through October, and past productions include A Chorus Line, In the Heights, Mamma Mia!, Sister Act and the world premiere of the musical adaptation of The Karate Kid in 2022.
St. Louis audiences flock to The Fabulous Fox to see Broadway shows, Vegas performers, top acts in pop, rock and comedy and classic movies. Located in the Grand Center Arts District, the theater is reminiscent of an opulent palace. The grand lobby was designed in the “Siamese-Byzantine” style, with rows of flanking columns that you would expect to find in rock-cut Buddhist monastery halls. The auditorium is equally spectacular, with jewel-studded plasterwork, hand-stenciled walls, gilt paint, intricate cast brass, vibrant fabrics and velvet chairs. Each season at The Fabulous Fox features something new and exciting – think Hamilton, Next to Normal, Prom, Six, Spring Awakening, The Book of Mormon and Wicked.
The Marcelle is a home for theater and dance. It features a state-of-the-art, 150-capacity black box theater, professional dance studios and nonprofit office suites. Throughout the year, musicals, plays, dance productions and other performances from Kranzberg Arts Foundation resident organizations and independent producers bring The Marcelle’s stage to life.
For more than 100 years, The Muny has filled Forest Park with the sounds of Broadway. Open from June through August, the outdoor theater attracts out-of-town professionals as well as local talent for memorable musicals ranging from As You Like It (the very first production ever mounted at what would become The Muny) to Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and Little Shop of Horrors to Rent. Attending a performance at The Muny with family and friends is a beloved St. Louis tradition. The shows are enchanting, electrifying and empowering, and every night, there are free seats available on a first-come first-served basis, so everyone can experience the magic of live theater.
Acrobats, aerialists, comedians and daredevils – Circus Flora has assembled the most breathtaking circus artists from around the world for an arresting and unforgettable experience. The theater company, which performs at The Big Top in the Grand Center Arts District, specializes in one-ring circus productions, combining the energy of both traditional and modern circus arts. Aiming to engage audience members on different levels, it focuses on emotional narratives and inspirational physical feats, which will remind you that adventure and excitement are everywhere.
As the fourth largest multidisciplinary community arts center in the U.S., COCA is a leader in innovative arts education, and COCApresents, its signature performance season, brings thought-provoking programming to multigenerational audiences in St. Louis. Every performance features smart, talented students from COCA’s Pre-Professional Division dance and theater companies. “Student productions get a bad rap,” Kirven Douthit-Boyd, associate director of dance production, says, “but I can assure you that the work that our students are producing on this stage is high-quality performance art. They spend months and months in these creative processes; they’re so engaged, and they continue to grow by way of these works. I encourage people to come and see it for themselves.”
Dance St. Louis brings world-class performances to the area, making dance accessible to a diverse audience, nurturing local dancers and dance companies and offering transformative dance education to the community. With more than 55 seasons in the books, Dance St. Louis is one of the region’s cultural treasures. The organization presents the full spectrum of dance – from classical ballet to tap and ballroom to hip-hop – and every season promises exquisite performances. In the past, Dance St. Louis has raised the curtain on star-studded organizations such as American Ballet Theatre, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Riverdance, STOMP, Stuttgart Ballet and Sydney Dance Company.
With distinguished musician, composer and educator Victor Goines at the helm, Jazz St. Louis aims to preserve and advance the uniquely American musical genre. The nonprofit organization boasts an intimate jazz performance space in the Grand Center Arts District, where lively concerts will have you dancing in your seat. Thanks to the exuberant performers, you might also gain a new perspective on jazz. “To me, [jazz] means the unexpected, and I love the unexpected,” Goines says. “It means every day is a learning experience.”
Located in the heart of Kirkwood, the Kirkwood Performing Arts Center (KPAC) is a state-of-the-art facility with the capability to support a wide variety of performances, productions and other events. The center features the Ross Family Theatre, the Strauss Black Box Theatre, two lobbies, a 2,000-square-foot event space and a 3,500-square-foot event lawn. Resident arts organizations and regional arts partners include STAGES St. Louis, The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Saint Louis Ballet, St. Louis Philharmonic Orchestra and Kirkwood Arts Commission.
Local impact. National presence. Global resonance. Opera Theatre of Saint Louis aims to shape a vibrant future for opera by connecting, inspiring and entertaining our communities through the beauty and power of the art form. It has a long tradition of discovering the finest young singers and promoting the work of living American librettists and composers, which help make opera accessible and inclusive through innovative and collaborative storytelling. Every year, Opera Theatre presents a spring festival season with inventive productions sung in English and accompanied by the Grammy Award-winning St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. As of the 2022 festival season, Opera Theatre had presented 33 world premieres, which ranks among the highest percentage of new work in the repertory of any U.S. company.
The world-renowned St. Louis Symphony Orchestra hosts more than 100 performances a year, striving for artistic excellence, educational impact and community connection. The orchestra is one of the best destinations for live music in town, and we’re sure that you’ll find a concert on the calendar that will properly serenade your soul.
Growing its repertoire, audience, reputation and funding for more than two decades, Union Avenue Opera has become an integral part of the St. Louis arts scene. The opera company provides professional opportunities for gifted, emerging artists and offers affordable, unforgettable operas in original languages to both curious and committed audiences. Union Avenue Opera’s festival season takes place in the summer, and single tickets usually go on sale in March.
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