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February 22—May 17






Explore life along the rivers of the new frontier through the masterworks of Missouri's most famous artist

About the Exhibition


Dubbed "the Missouri artist," George Caleb Bingham moved to the state as a child and, by the 1840s, began painting the scenes of western life for which he is now famous. Navigating the West: George Caleb Bingham and the River celebrates his iconic depictions of frontier life by bringing together his river paintings and drawings for the first time in decades.

The 22 paintings on view in Navigating the West include masterworks from the Museum's American collection and others on loan from prominent museums and private collections. They are joined by more than 50 related drawings and prints, as well as the recently restored Panorama of the Monumental Grandeur of the Mississippi Valley. Painted around 1850, at the same time as Bingham's masterworks, the 348-foot-long Panorama provides another depiction of life along the western rivers.

Navigating the West is the most extensive and ambitious of three coinciding explorations of landscape and the river in 19th-century American art. Visitors are invited to enjoy the free exhibitions Scenic Wonder: An Early American Journey Down the Hudson River and Thomas Cole's Voyage of Life.

Co-organized by the Saint Louis Art Museum and the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Navigating the West will travel to The Metropolitan Museum of Art in June. The exhibition is accompanied by a scholarly, full-color catalogue that is available in the Museum Shops.

[top] George Caleb Bingham, American, 1811–1879; Jolly Flatboatmen in Port, 1857 (detail); oil on canvas; 47 1/4 x 69 5/8 inches; Saint Louis Art Museum, Museum Purchase 123:1944

[left] George Caleb Bingham, American, 1811–1879; Boatman, for Boatmen on the Missouri (1846); brush, black ink, and wash over paper; 9 1/2 x 8 inches; Lent by Mr. and Mrs. Stuart P. Feld

[right] George Caleb Bingham, American, 1811–1879; Skillet-beater (2), for Jolly Flatboatmen in Port (1857) and The Jolly Flatboatmen (1877–78) with alterations; brush, black ink, and wash over pencil heightened with white gouache on tan wove paper; 13 5/8 x 11 3/4 inches; Lent by The People of Missouri, Acquired through the generosity of The Kansas City Star

Tickets

Tickets

Navigating the West opens to the public on Sunday, February 22 and runs through May 17. All tickets—including free tickets—are timed and dated, and advance tickets are recommended.

Tickets prices are $14 for adults, $12 for seniors and students, and $6 for children ages 6 to 12. Children under the age of 6 are free. Members receive free tickets, and the exhibition is free to all visitors on Fridays. The last admission time of the day is one hour before the Museum closes.

Advance tickets are available at the Museum or through MetroTix. Tickets purchased or reserved through MetroTix will be assessed a service fee. Same-day tickets are available in person at the Museum only. When ordering through MetroTix, Members must present a special promo code to receive the correct number of free Member tickets. To obtain your specific code, please visit members.slam.org/code or call 314.655.5335.

George Caleb Bingham, American, 1811–1879; The Wood-Boat, 1850 (detail); oil on canvas mounted on board; 25 1/8 x 30 inches; Saint Louis Art Museum, Museum Purchase 14:1951

Members


[above] George Caleb Bingham, American, 1811–1879; Fur Traders Descending the Missouri, 1845 (detail); oil on canvas; 29 1/4 x 36 1/4 inches; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Morris K. Jesup Fund, 1933 (33.61); Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Members See it Free!

Museum Members enjoy free admission to Navigating the West, as well as invitations to special events and valuable discounts on dining, shopping, and parking. Join today to enjoy the many wonderful benefits of membership.

Member Preview Days

Be among the first to see the exhibition during two preview days exclusively for Members, with live music, hands-on activities, and a special Members-only lecture by one of the exhibition's organizing curators.
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Exhibition Ticketing for Members

Museum Members receive free timed tickets to the exhibition on every visit. Your membership level determines the number of tickets you may receive. Advance tickets for the exhibition and select Member programs are recommended for best availability.

Advance tickets are available in person at the Information Centers or through MetroTix. When ordering through MetroTix, Members must present a promo code to receive free tickets. To retrieve your promo code, call the Membership Office at 314.655.5335 or click here. All MetroTix orders, including Member tickets, will include a $3 per ticket fee.

[left] George Caleb Bingham, American, 1811–1879; Fur trader, for Fur Traders Descending the Missouri (1845) and Trappers' Return (1851) with alterations; brush, black ink, and wash over pencil on off-white wove paper; 11 7/8 x 9 9/16 inches; Lent by The People of Missouri, Acquired through the generosity of Allen P. and Josephine B. Green Foundation

Programs

Art at the Table


A Culinary Journey Through the Mississippi River Valley
Friday, February 20, 7:00 pm
Panorama Restaurant


Join Chef Ivy Magruder for a unique, four-course feast in Panorama. The themed dinner starts with an exclusive pre-dinner gallery tour.
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Lecture


The People of Missouri Save the Bingham Drawings
The Honorable Christopher S. "Kit" Bond, Charles E. Valier, and Nancy W. Work
Sunday, February 22, 2:00 pm
The Farrell Auditorium. Free.


Hear the amazing story of a homegrown campaign to save important works of art for future generations from three people key to its success. In 1974, Governor Christopher S. "Kit" Bond and his counsel, Charles E. Valier, launched a campaign to purchase a group of more than one hundred drawings by Missouri artist George Caleb Bingham slated for auction and likely dispersal. Art historian Nancy W. Work curated a traveling exhibition of Bingham's paintings and drawings to build awareness throughout the state and beyond. Citizens young and old as well as businesses contributed to the cause, ultimately keeping the drawings together and in Missouri. A selection of the drawings saved by the 1974 campaign, on loan from The Bingham Trust, are included in the Museum's special exhibition Navigating the West: George Caleb Bingham & the River.

Film Presentation


Navigating the Rivers: A Collection of Modern-Day Stories
Saturday, February 28, 1:00 pm.
The Farrell Auditorium. Free.


This series of five vignettes tells the stories of how today's rivers continue to impact art, music, conservation, work, and recreation. The Navigating the Rivers video series may also be viewed online. It is supported by Bank of America and Mercury Labs.

Performance


1865: Songs of Hope and Home from the American Civil War
Wednesday, March 11, 7:00 pm
The Farrell Auditorium.


The award-winning a cappella quartet Anonymous 4 and fiddler Bruce Molsky will commemorate the 150th anniversary of the abolition of slavery and the end of the Civil War at a March 11 performance in the Art Museum's Farrell Auditorium. The 7:00 pm concert—titled 1865: Songs of Hope and Home from the American Civil War—is part of the final touring season for Anonymous 4.
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SLAM Underground


Friday, March 27, 7:00–10:00 pm
Free.


Enjoy music, art making, performance, and a signature cocktail inspired by artist George Caleb Bingham and 19th-century America.

Family Program


Rolling on a River
Sundays in April, 1:00–4:00 pm
Free.


Every Sunday, families are invited for free art activities and a kid-friendly gallery tour. In April, visitors can travel back to the time of George Caleb Bingham to learn about life on the American frontier and the Museum's collection of American art.

Gallery Talks


George Caleb Bingham's The County Election
Thursday, April 9, 11:00 am
Friday, April 10, at 6:00 pm
Meet in Sculpture Hall. Free.

Lecture


Other Views of the River
Saturday, April 18, 10:30 am
The Farrell Auditorium. Free.


Learn how rivers were used in the mid-19th century and what they meant to slaves, immigrants, and Native Americans.

Gallery Talks


Thomas Cole's The Voyage of Life
Thursday, April 30, 11:00 am
Friday, May 1, 6:00 pm
Meet in Sculpture Hall. Free.

All events in The Farrell Auditorium, including free events, are ticketed. Tickets to the exhibition and related programs may be purchased or reserved in person at the Museum's Information Centers or through MetroTix. Tickets purchased or reserved through MetroTix will be assessed a service fee.

Symposium

Symposium


Navigating the Changing Nation: The River and Mid-Nineteenth-Century American Art


Friday, February 20, 5:00–7:00 pm; cash bar and exhibition viewing with curators
Saturday, February 21, 9:00 am–5:30 pm; Symposium and reception

In the mid-19th century, pictures of America's inland rivers circulated widely around the country, feeding the public's imagination about the nation's extant wilderness. American artists such as Thomas Cole in the East and George Caleb Bingham in the Midwest depicted major waterways including the Hudson, the Missouri, and the Mississippi as symbols of a changing America.

This symposium will explore the social and artistic importance of America's rivers pictured in paintings, drawings, and prints during the mid-19th century.


George Caleb Bingham, American, 1811–1879; Watching the Cargo, 1849 (detail); oil on canvas; 26 x 36 inches; On loan from the State Historical Society of Missouri Columbia Research Center and Gallery, Columbia, Missouri


Speakers and moderators include:
  • Margaret C. Conrads, Amon Carter Museum of Art
  • Linda S. Ferber, New-York Historical Society
  • Ann Hyde, Colorado College
  • Elizabeth Mankin Kornhauser, Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Nenette Luarca-Shoaf, Independent Curator
  • T.S. McMillin, Oberlin College
  • Janeen Turk, Saint Louis Art Museum
  • Andrew Walker, Amon Carter Museum of American Art
  • Janet Whitmore, Independent Scholar
  • Melissa Wolfe, Saint Louis Art Museum

Registration
Registration Fee: $45; $35 Members of the Saint Louis Art Museum; Registration may be completed in person at the Museum's Information Centers or through MetroTix at metrotix.com or 314-534-1111. All registrations through Metrotix incur a service charge; the service charge is waived for tickets purchased at the Museum.

REGISTER NOW


Support of this symposium provided by TEFAF, Maastricht

Schedule

Friday, February 20
5:00-7:00 pm Registration, cash bar, and exhibition viewing
(Sculpture Hall, 2nd & 3rd floor galleries)
Check-in Sculpture Hall
5:00-6:00 pm Exhibition Introductions:

Eric Lutz (Scenic Wonder: The Hudson River Portfolio)
David Conradson & Ann Burroughs (Thomas Cole's Voyage of Life)
Janeen Turk & Nancy Heugh (Navigating the West)
8:15 pm Last entry for Navigating the West
9:00 pm Museum closes


Saturday, February 21
9:00 am Registration (Auditorium Lobby, 1st floor)
Coffee & Muffins (Café, 1st floor)
10:00 am Welcome
Jason Busch, Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs and Museum Programs, Saint Louis Art Museum

Introductions
Melissa Wolfe, Curator of American Art, Saint Louis Art Museum
10:15-11:00 am The Fluid West: The River Paintings of George Caleb Bingham
Nenette Luarca-Shoaf, Guest Curator, Navigating the West: George Caleb Bingham and the River and Sawyer Seminar Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Study at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
11:00-11:10 am Q & A
11:15-12:30 pm Session #1
     5 min Moderator Introduction
Margaret C. Conrads, Deputy Director of Art and Research, Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth
     30 min Creating a Shared Vision: River Panoramas and the American Ideal
Janet Whitmore, Independent Scholar American Paintings and Sculpture, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
     30 min Title TBD [maps of first half of 19th century]
Peter Kastor, Professor and Chair, Department of History and Professor, American Culture Studies, Washington University in St. Louis
     10 min Discussion
12:30-2:00 pm Lunch (1 hr, 30 min)
2:00-3:15 pm Session #2
     5 min Moderator Introduction
Andrew J. Walker, Director, Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth
     30 min To be announced
     30 min "Strangers Still More Strange" The River, the Steamboat, and [Melville's] The Confidence Man
T.S. McMillin, Professor of English in the A. J. Lewis Center for Environmental Studies, Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio
     10 min Discussion
3:15-4:30 pm Session #3
     5 min Moderator Introduction
Melissa Wolfe, Curator of American Art, Saint Louis Art Museum
     30 min A Look Over the Artist's Shoulder: Bingham's Fur Traders Descending the Missouri
Elizabeth Mankin Kornhauser, Alice Pratt Brown Curator of
     30 min Families and the River: George Caleb Bingham and the Mississippi's Complex Racial Past
Anne Hyde, Professor of History, Colorado College, Colorado Springs
     10 min Discussion
4:30 pm Wrap up
4:30-5:30 pm Reception (Auditorium Lobby)


The exhibition has been organized by the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas, and the Saint Louis Art Museum. It is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities and in part by generous grants from the Henry Luce Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. The St. Louis presentation is generously supported by the William T. Kemper Foundation, Commerce Bank, Trustee. Financial assistance has been provided by the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency.