The Era of Innovative Design
November 8, 2015—January 31, 2016


[IMAGE] Designed by Eero Saarinen, American (born Finland), 1910–1961; manufactured by Knoll, Inc.; Armchair, 1956, manufactured c.1960; plastic, fiberglass, foam, aluminum, and original upholstery; 32 x 25 1/2 x 27 1/4 inches; Saint Louis Art Museum, Gift of Michael Ashworth 8:2000 ©Knoll, Inc.
St. Louis Modern explores a dynamic period in our region's history (1935–65) when St. Louis-based architects, artists, and designers made innovative contributions to midcentury modern design. Commemorating the 50th anniversary of Eero Saarinen’s modernist masterpiece, the Gateway Arch, the exhibition features more than 150 objects and artworks drawn from the Museum's collection and more than 30 museums and private lenders around the country. Many of the works in the exhibition will be shown for the first time.

Organized chronologically, St. Louis Modern traces the emergence of design in the early 20th century through an exploration of several themes: machine age, aerodynamic design; mass-market design; the influence of architects and tastemakers; embellishments; and Scandinavian design. The exhibition will celebrate 30 years of modernism in the built environment of St. Louis, including significant architectural commissions, public sculpture, murals, and stained glass. It will feature both rare and renowned examples of mass-produced designs that were popularized through exhibitions at St. Louis department stores and museums. Promoting ideas about good design (notably simplicity and functionality), these exhibitions helped make designed products more accessible to St. Louis consumers. Architects, artists, and designers featured in the exhibition include Frederick Dunn, Charles and Ray Eames, Pipsan Saarinen Swanson, and Dorothy Liebes.

Modern design's embrace of innovative materials and streamlined styling is captured by one particularly exciting object, a 1954 Chevrolet Corvette. Representing the first model year that was manufactured in St. Louis, the Corvette underscores the key role of the automobile in the growth of suburbia in postwar St. Louis.

St. Louis Modern is organized by the Saint Louis Art Museum. This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Gertrude and William A. Bernoudy Foundation, and by BMO Harris Bank. Financial assistance has been provided by the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency. The exhibition is curated by David Conradsen, the Grace L. Brumbaugh and Richard E. Brumbaugh curator of decorative arts and design, and Genevieve Cortinovis, research assistant.



Members receive free admission to the exhibition.
Advanced tickets are recommended for December 26-January 1.

  • $14 for adults
  • $12 for seniors and students
  • $6 for children ages 6 to 12
  • Children ages 5 and under are free
  • Free on Fridays

Advance tickets are recommended, especially on Fridays when tickets are free. Tickets are available in person at the Museum’s Information Centers, online through MetroTix, or by phone at 314.534.1111. Tickets purchased or reserved through MetroTix incur a service charge; the service charge is waived for tickets reserved at the Museum. Advance tickets for Fridays are limited to 6 tickets per person. All tickets, including tickets for Free Fridays, are issued for a specific date and time.

The last entry to St. Louis Modern is one hour before the Museum closes.

[IMAGE] Walter Dorwin Teague, American, 1883–1960; Bluebird Sparton Radio, c. 1935; mirrored glass, chrome, wood, electrical components; 13 1/2 x 13 1/2 x 8 inches; Courtesy of the Missouri History Museum, St. Louis


[IMAGE] Gyo Obata of Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum; St. Louis Abbey Church; Image courtesy of Genevieve Cortinovis


Located in the heart of Forest Park, the Saint Louis Art Museum is easy to reach by car or Metro transit and drivers will find both underground parking at the Museum and free parking nearby. The Art Museum welcomes all visitors and strives to make its building and programs accessible to everyone. Photography is not allowed in the main exhibition galleries but you may take non-flash, non-commercial photos in the Explore Lab and in our permanent collection galleries.


Guided tours for 10 or more participants must be scheduled online. Group tours for St. Louis Modern are not available on Fridays.


The best way to enjoy St. Louis Modern is to take the self-guided mobile tour. Download the free St. Louis Modern mobile tour app via the Apple App Store or Google Play before you come. Exhibition co-curators David Conradsen and Genevieve Cortinovis, along with other specialists, will provide commentary and share behind-the-scenes perspectives on these visually stunning works. Mobile tours also are available on a limited number of Museum iPads and included in your paid admission ($5 on Free Fridays).


Enjoy midcentury melodies on Spotify. Create a free account and follow stlouisartmuseum to find our St. Louis Modern playlist.


St. Louis Modern is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue featuring a comprehensive essay on modern architecture in St. Louis by Mary Reid Brunstrom, an architectural historian and doctoral candidate in art history at Washington University, and essays on prewar and postwar modern design in St. Louis by exhibition co-curators David Conradsen and Genevieve Cortinovis. The catalogue is available for purchase online and in the Museum Shops.


The Saint Louis Art Museum offers two dining options. Enjoy elegant yet approachable dining in Panorama or enjoy light meals, snacks and beverages in the Cafe.


After visiting the exhibition, stop by either Museum Shop location and explore merchandise inspired by the midcentury modern movement. Members save 10 percent.



Enhance your experience of St. Louis Modern and other upcoming exhibitions and programs by becoming a Museum Member. For information, visit slam.org/members or call 314.721.0072.

All Members enjoy:
  • Free admission to all exhibitions (two per visit)
  • Invitations to Members-only exhibition previews and special events
  • $5 parking in the parking garage (save up to $10 per visit!)
  • Discounts on Museum classes, workshops, and ticketed programs
  • 10 percent discount on shopping and dining at the Museum
  • Subscriptions to the Museum Magazine, Calendar, and Member eNews


Friday, November 6, 10:00 am–8:00 pm
Saturday, November 7, 10:00 am–4:00 pm

Member Exhibition Preview Days
Members get a sneak peek of St. Louis Modern before the exhibition officially opens on Sunday, November 8.

Saturday, November 7, 7:00 pm–10:00 pm
Modern After Dark: Members Party and Open House
This exclusive event for member includes a lecture, midcentury jazz standards performed by a trio assembled by Jazz St. Louis, and classic cocktails at the cash bar. Free; reservations required. For more information or to register, visit members.slam.org/RSVP or call 314.655.5335.

Thursday, November 19, 6:00 pm
Young Friends Celebrate St. Louis Modern
Enjoy cocktails and exhibition tours, as well as Collecting Midcentury Modern, an informal panel discussion. For more information or to register, visit members.slam.org/youngfriends or call 314.655.5416.


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, incur a $3 per ticket fee.

[IMAGE] Designed by Charles Eames, American, 1907–1978; Ray Kaiser Eames, American, 1912–1988; manufactured by Herman Miller Furniture Company; Lounge Chair Wood (LCW), designed 1946; molded ash plywood and rubber; Saint Louis Art Museum, Gift of Tom and Jean Wolff in memory of Charles Eames 47:1985 © Eames Office, LLC

Programs & Events

[IMAGE] Francis Deck, 1918 – 2001; Stained Glass Window Panels, The Pelican in her Piety, c.1950; lead, glass, pigment; Emil Frei & Associates


Friday, January 8, 7:00 pm
Midcentury Modern Architecture in St. Louis: an Expanded View
In a free lecture, architectural historian Mary Reid Brunstrom will explore modern architecture in St. Louis from 1928 to 1968. This lecture will be held in The Farrell Auditorium.
This event is now sold out. A comprehensive essay on modern architecture in St. Louis by Mary Reid Brunstrom is included in the fully illustrated St. Louis Modern catalogue, which is available for purchase online and in the Museum shops.


Saturday, December 5, 10:00 am–3:00 pm
St. Louis Midcentury Modern Architecture Bus Tour
Departs from the Saint Louis Art Museum $50 ($40 Members)
See and learn about highlights of midcentury modern architecture throughout St. Louis on this lively bus tour presented by Michael Allen, director of the Preservation Research Office. Tour departs from the Museum.


Thursday, November 19, 11:00 am Friday, November 20, 6:00 pm
St. Louis Modern
Learn more about St. Louis Modern in a free exhibition talk with St. Louis Modern co-curators David Conradsen and Genevieve Cortinovis. This talk will take place in the Museum’s Education Center. Space is limited.

Thursday, December 3, 11:00 am Friday, December 4, 6:00 pm
Blow-Up: Graphic Abstraction in 1960s Design
A related exhibition explores the emergence of large-scale abstract pattern and form in textiles, fashion, and furnishings of the 1960s. Learn more with a gallery talk by Blow-Up curator Genevieve Cortinovis and textile conservator Zoe Perkins. Space is limited for the gallery talk. Check in at the Information Center in Sculpture Hall.


Saturday, December 5, 7:00 pm–11:00 pm
SLAM Modern
Step back in time at SLAM Modern, a midcentury-inspired fundraiser and party celebrating St. Louis Modern. The mood is mod for this special evening, which will include classic cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, music, dancing, and plenty of swank and style! For more information and to purchase tickets, visit slam.org/slammodern

Patron Ticket, $225 – event entry for one
VIP Ticket, $500 – access to private lounge with premium bar and enhanced experiences


Each event in this new series begins at 6:45 pm with a cash bar featuring classic cocktails followed by the program in The Farrell Auditorium at 7:30 pm.
$15 ($10 Members)

Friday, November 20
Birth of the Cool: Jazz and Midcentury Modern Design
Explore the connections between jazz and midcentury modern design at this evening of live music presented by Phil Dunlap of Jazz St. Louis.

Friday, December 4
Midcentury Modern Design Mixer
This entertaining evening features a series of short talks by local experts on different aspects of midcentury modern art and design.


St. Louis Midcentury Architecture Self-Guided Tour
Explore midcentury architecture around St. Louis with a self-guided driving tour developed in partnership with Modern STL. Visit http://www.modern-stl.com/neighborhoods/self-guided-tours to download free maps featuring architectural highlights from the midcentury modern era.

*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 at metrotix.com or 314.534.1111. All tickets purchased or reserved through MetroTix incur a service charge; the service charge is waived for tickets purchased or reserved at the Museum.


Blow-Up: Graphic Abstraction in 1960s Design explores the emergence of large-scale abstract pattern and form in textiles, fashion, and furnishings of the 1960s, with an emphasis on Finland and Italy as centers of innovation. Referencing Italian filmmaker Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1966 fashion-steeped thriller Blow-Up, the exhibition features a selection of outsized, graphic objects in saturated colors that capture the youthful vitality that came to characterize the decade. Blow-Up is on view in Gallery 100 through March 20, 2016.
St. Louis Modern has been organized by the Saint Louis Art Museum. This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Gertrude and William A. Bernoudy Foundation, and by BMO Harris Bank. Financial assistance has been provided by the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency.