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May 21–July 31
Sculpture Hall

This summer, visitors to the Saint Louis Art Museum are invited to experience something out of the ordinary. In Sculpture Hall art conservators will be treating a work from our collection, Panorama of the Monumental Grandeur of the Mississippi Valley. This work is nearly 170 years old.

The painting is a “moving panorama,” which was a popular form of entertainment in the 1800s that attempted to replicate an actual experience for its audience through sound, light, and other special effects. It consists of 350 feet of fabric wrapped around two rollers that was scrolled horizontally from one roller to the other to display 25 individual scenes. Over the course of time, as it traveled from town to town, the panorama was repeatedly disassembled and displayed, causing the lightweight fabric to wrinkle and the paint to wear off.

Panorama of the Monumental Grandeur of the Mississippi Valley is the only known Mississippi River panorama that exists today. It was in a state of disrepair when the Museum acquired it in 1953. Conservation began in 2011 when plans were in place to exhibit the work.

Conservators will complete the extensive, nine-year project by treating and preserving the final three damaged scenes.  During this process, Museum visitors have the unique opportunity to observe and interact with the conservation team while they work. In addition, Museum docents, curators, and conservators will provide additional insights to visitors on scheduled weekdays in Sculpture Hall.

What is a Moving Panorama?

  • Tuesdays through July 31, 11 am
    Fridays through July 31, 5:30 pm
    Sculpture Hall

    Curator Talks will focus on this unique work of art and the stories it tells. These will take place on June 7, 11, 21, 25 and July 5, 9, 19, and 23.

    Conservator Talks will describe the process and techniques involved in conserving it. These will take place on June 4, 14, 18, 28 and July 2, 12, 16, 26 and 30.

  • Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays through July 31, 1–2:30 pm
    Sculpture Hall
    Ask questions related to the conservation project.

Panorama of the Monumental Grandeur of the Mississippi Valley

Take a closer look at details and additional scenes from the Panorama.

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