THE EAST BUILDING
Main Exhibition Galleries
Galleries 212S and 248-258
After more than 130 years of strategic acquisitions, the Saint Louis Art Museum's encyclopedic collection outgrew the historic, Beaux Arts-style Main Building that was designed for the 1904 World's Fair.
The solution was the Museum's East Building, a major expansion designed by David Chipperfield
that embraces the 21st century while complementing the Museum's iconic, Cass Gilbert-designed Main Building. The East Building opened in June 2013.
The East Building's 21 galleries increased the Museum's total gallery space by approximately 30 percent. Seven of the new galleries are dedicated to main exhibitions. The East Building's collection galleries are dedicated primarily to modern and contemporary art.
The expansion was funded with private dollars—the result of the largest capital campaign for a cultural institution in the history of St. Louis. The expansion project comprised construction costs of some $130 million, as well as the addition of $32 million to the Museum's endowment to fund increased operating costs associated with the expansion.
Chipperfield's design features a polished concrete façade incorporating Missouri river aggregates, innovative skylights, and a number of floor-to-ceiling windows that frame views from both inside and outside. One of the most distinctive features is a coffered ceiling that provides natural light to galleries and public spaces and gives visitors a dynamic viewing experience that changes with outdoor conditions.
The U.S. Green Building Council awarded the East Building LEED certification at the gold level. Amenities in the East Building include Panorama
, a 2,500-square-foot restaurant overlooking Art Hill, a second Museum Shop, and a three-level underground garage that can accommodate 300 vehicles.
The expansion was praised by critics, including The Financial Times
, which dubbed the building
"a gem of clarity and deceptive simplicity," and The Architect's Newspaper
, which called it "one of the finest spaces for viewing modern and contemporary art to be completed in the U.S. in recent memory." Architect
magazine called the coffered ceiling
"a work of art in and of itself," while Architectural Review praised Chipperfield
for designing "some of the most ideally proportioned and perfectly lit display rooms of any recent museum."