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Saint Louis Art Museum
 
gallery
 
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Cass Gilbert Halsey Ives Art Palace 1904 1910 1910 1910 Prior to 1915 Prior to 1915
 
South facade circa 1915
 
Sculpture Hall with statues
 
Class outside north entrance 1927
 
1948
 
North entrance
 
South facade
 
Sledders on art hill
 
Museum Director Brent R Benjamin
 
Crowd for special exhibition
 
Student tour
 
Roxy Paine Tree
 
South entrance enscription
 
present day
 
Expansion rendering
 
New Puck's rendering
 
Expansion gallery rendering
 
Cass Gilbert (1859–1934), architect of the Museum's Beaux Arts building
Cass Gilbert
Born in 1859 in Zanesville, Ohio, Cass Gilbert led a distinguished architectural career before designing the Palace of Fine Arts for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, informally known as the 1904 World's Fair. His many notable buildings include the St. Louis Public Library, the U.S. Courthouse in New York City, the U.S. Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C., and the Woolworth Building, also in New York City.

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Halsey C. Ives (1847–1911), founder and first director of the City Art Museum of St. Louis
Halsey Ives, founder of the Saint Louis School and Museum of Fine Arts
Halsey C. Ives, the first director of the City Art Museum of St. Louis, was first hired as an instructor at the St. Louis School and Museum of Fine Arts in 1874. Seven years later, he became the director of the School and Museum. Having been part of the school for 35 years, Ives provided strong leadership for the City Art Museum until his death in 1911.

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East Pavilion of Art Palace during the 1904 World's Fair
Art Palace during World's Fair, 1904
Cass Gilbert's Palace of Fine Arts, in addition to the permanent granite structure that houses the Saint Louis Art Museum today, included three temporary pavilions: an east pavilion, a west pavilion, and a sculpture pavilion. Constructed of brick, concrete, and a temporary building material called staff, these pavilions were demolished at the close of the 1904 World's Fair.

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Museum's North Entrance (1910)
North entrance looking east, circa 1910
The inscription over the North Entrance to the Museum reads: "Dedicated to Art and Free to All MDCDIII." These roman numerals translate to 1903, indicating that the engraving was part of the original building designed for the 1904 World's Fair.

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North entrance with "Apotheosis of Saint Louis," (1910)
North entrace with 'Apotheosis of Saint Louis,' circa 1910
The equestrian statue of St. Louis' patron and namesake, Louis IX, traces its origins to the 1904 World's Fair. Now positioned atop Art Hill directly in front of the Museum, the sculpture by Charles H. Niehaus includes an inscription that reads: "Presented to the City of St. Louis by the Louisiana Purchase Exposition Company in commemoration of the Universal Exposition of 1904 held on this site."

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Museum's South Entrance (1910)
South entrance, crica 1910
The Museum entered into a contract for the loan of items from the original collection of the St. Louis School and Museum of Fine Arts in 1910, after the City Art Museum separated from Washington University in St. Louis. Some of these items remained at the Museum for many years and were gradually returned to Washington University.

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Statues in Sculpture Hall (c. 1920)
Statues in Sculpture Hall
During the 1920s, Sculpture Hall, then referred to as Sculpture Court, housed more than 50 sculptures by artists including Hans Schuler, Louis Sullivan, and Daniel Chester French. It also contained several Roman portraiture busts from the first and second centuries, a fitting homage to the Baths of Caracalla, which inspired Cass Gilbert's design of the Hall. At this time, the Hall had the original concrete floors that were laid for the World's Fair.

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Museum's North Entrance (prior to 1913)
North entrance, prior to 1913
In 1910, the Saint Louis Art Museum building was entirely without an electric lighting system. Night watchmen carried kerosene lanterns to illuminate their rounds throughout the galleries. Electrical lighting would not be installed in the building until 1913.

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Museum's North Entrance with Grand Basin (prior to 1913)
North entrance, showing grand basin, prior to 1915
The Grand Basin, located at the foot of Art Hill in Forest Park, was shaped for the 1904 World's Fair from the existing Peninsula Lake. The City of St. Louis required the Louisiana Purchase Exposition Company to restore the fairgrounds to a park-like setting at the close of the Fair, and the Grand Basin was part of the structure that remained.

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Museum's South façade (1915)
South façade of Museum, circa 1915
When the Richardson Memorial Library opened in 1915, it housed 5,000 volumes, a combination of Museum purchases and donations from generous patrons. Initially, the Library occupied three rooms in the East Wing of the Museum. Today, it can be found on the third floor of the South Wing. The Library continues to serve both Museum staff and interested public. The maple tables and bookshelves that Cass Gilbert designed for the original facility are in use in the current Library.

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Museum's North Entrance (c. 1970)
School buses outside north entrance
In 1971, with the establishment of the Metropolitan Zoological Park and Museum District (ZMD), the Museum changed its name to the one St. Louisians know today: the Saint Louis Art Museum. Support from taxpayers of St. Louis City and County allows the Museum to offer visitors free admission and unrestricted access to the experience of art. St. Louisans point with pride to the words "Dedicated to Art and Free to All" carved in stone above the Museum's entrance.

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School children outside the Museum's North Entrance (1927)
Class outside of north entrance around Saint-Gaudens' sculpture, 1927
Between 1913 and 1929, Sculpture Hall underwent drastic changes. Ceiling lights were installed in 1913; from 1928 to 1929, Sculpture Hall's concrete floor was replaced with pink Tennessee marble and a fountain was fixed in the center of the space.

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Museum's South façade (c. 1970)
South entrance
In 1975 the Museum closed its east wing and Sculpture Hall for renovations. Offices were also moved to a temporary location on Delmar. Two years later the east wing of Cass Gilbert's original building was renovated and climate control was installed, followed by the construction of an administrative wing to the south of the Museum.

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Vienna Gallery (1951)
Vienna Exhibition
The 1951 exhibition, Imperial Vienna Art Treasures, was on loan from the Austrian government after the Imperial Museum of Vienna was damaged during World War II. The exhibition brought many of the Hapsburg family's greatest possessions to the U.S. in an eight-city tour. In St. Louis, the exhibition set attendance records unmatched to this day. During its 50-day run, the show attracted an average of 5,790 people each day.

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Sculpture Hall (2007)
Sculpture Hall
The Saint Louis Art Museum's Family Sundays is a free program of art projects and tours for families held each Sunday afternoon in Sculpture Hall. Each week's art activity is planned for all ages, and a lively 30-minute tour guides families through the Museum's collection and highlights pieces that inspire the art projects.

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Museum's North Entrance viewed from Art Hill (May 2009)
Present day
Originally, the Museum was part of Washington University in St. Louis, and was called the St. Louis School and Museum of Fine Arts. In 1907, the state legislature enacted a tax law, and in the same year St. Louis residents voted nearly four to one in favor of the tax, laying the groundwork for the funding that would allow the Museum to provide free admission. Finally, in 1909, the Museum officially split from Washington University, becoming the City Art Museum of St. Louis on April 23, 1909. Thanks to the generous support of St. Louis City and County residents, the Museum has remained free to all.

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Sledders on Art Hill (1973)
Sledders on Art Hill
What would a snow day be without a sled ride down Art Hill? As synonymous with St. Louis culture as toasted ravioli, generations of St. Louisians have made sledding on Art Hill a winter tradition. The Saint Louis Art Museum has served as the picturesque backdrop to many winter memories.

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Museum Director Brent R Benjamin
Museum Director Brent R Benjamin
Brent R. Benjamin celebrates 10 years with the Saint Louis Art Museum in 2009. Benjamin, who joined the Museum as director in May 1999, was charged by the Museum's Board of Commissioners with leading the Museum's expansion-planning process. The Museum expansion was envisioned in the Art Museum's 2000 Strategic Plan and the 1995 Forest Park Master Plan.

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Degas' Little Dancer (2008)
Children on a school tour of the Museum
The Saint Louis Art Museum has been a leader in arts education since the inception of its professionally-staffed education department in 1923. This department offers a range of classes, community outreach activities, family and school programs, gallery talks, lectures, performances, and teacher workshops.

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Roxy Paine Tree (2008)
Roxy Paine Tree
Roxy Paine's gleaming, monumental sculpture Placebo was installed on the Saint Louis Art Museum's west lawn in 2005. The 56-foot tall, stainless steel sculpture was a gift in memory of John Wooten Moore.
(Roxy Paine, American, born 1966; Placebo, 2004; stainless steel; 56 ft. x 46 ft. 6 in.; Commissioned by the Saint Louis Art Museum with funds given in memory of John Wooten Moore 38:2004 © Roxy Paine)

Inscription over the Museum's south entrance (2008)
Enscription over south entrance
Inscribed above the Saint Louis Art Museum's south fa├žade is a line from the poem "Memorial Verses" by the 19th-century English poet Matthew Arnold that reads "Art Still Has Truth; Take Refuge There."

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A rendering of the Museum's expansion
A rendering of the expansion
Designed by architect Cass Gilbert for the 1904 World's Fair, the Palace of Fine Arts in Forest Park was not intended to be used as a museum. Through this expansion, the Art Museum will not only create much needed additional gallery space to allow the display of more works of art, the overall experience will also be enhanced with improvements to visitor amenities and infrastructure, including a new, fully-accessible entrance off Fine Arts Drive, and a new, below-grade, 300-space parking garage. Sculpture Hall will remain the physical and symbolic heart of the Museum.

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A rendering of the Museum's new restaurant space
A rendering of the new restaurant space
As a comprehensive museum with collections that encompass a wide range of human creativity across time and space, the Saint Louis Art Museum commissioned David Chipperfield to design an expansion that was architecturally appropriate to our time, in the same way that the original building was appropriate to its time. The new restaurant will feature a dramatic overlook of Forest Park to the north.

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A rendering of the expansion's gallery space
A rendering of the expansion's gallery space
David Chipperfield's design pays thoughtful and elegant homage to the architect Cass Gilbert while creating modern spaces to house the Museum's extraordinary holdings. Chipperfield and his design team have designed an exciting plan that not only realizes the full potential of the new space but dramatically improves the ability of the Museum to operate as a 21st-century institution. More than 82,000 square feet of additional gallery, public, and collection support space will be added with the expansion project.

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One Fine Arts Drive, Forest Park, St. Louis, MO 63110-1380
Telephone 314.721.0072