St. Louis Attractions: Exploring the St. Louis Art Museum

The St. Louis Art Museum houses over 33,000 works of art in 14 different categories. The building, originally designed and built as part of the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition, is currently under expansion. However,all exhibits remain free to the publi

Art lovers should plan to spend some time at the world-class St. Louis Art Museum when they visit the St. Louis, Missouri area.

Begun in 1879, the museum originally operated in conjunction with Washington University in St. Louis. The museum was relocated from downtown St. Louis to the Palace of Fine Arts in Forest Park for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition of 1904 or the 1904 World's Fair. This building was the only permanent structure built as part of the fair. 1904 World's Fair. The museum ended its association with Washington University in 1909 and was renamed City Art Museum.

The museum is currently undergoing renovation and expansion, although most exhibits are still available to the public. The new space and redesigned galleries in the existing buildings will allow curators to display works not seen by the public in decades as well as new acquisitions and works owned by the museum but never exhibited until now. The new expansion is expected to be completed in 2012. The museum also houses a gift shop and a cafe.

Coming into the museum through the main entrance opposite the statue of King Louis IX, visitors will enter the Sculpture Hall. Here the informtion desk is located, one can access featured exhibits, and special engagements such as private receptions and concerts are held. To the left are galleries housing most of the displayed European art collection. To the left are the galleries for featured exhibits and galleries displaying part of the Asian collection. The upper level houses administrative offices and galleries for American and Contemporary Art. The lower level contains galleries for a variety of art: Egyptian, armor, period rooms, African, American Indian, and others of the 14 broad categories into which the whole collection of the museum has been divided. Displays are rotated periodically and the curators are continually updating and adding to the collection, which now numbers over 33,000.However, one of the most popular exhibits still remains the Egyptian mummy.

The museum offers tours, gallery talks, family programming, film series, and other special events open to the public on a regular basis. In addition, sculptures have been placed throughtout the museum grounds, a lovely attraction as you walk through the grounds on drive by the museum on your way to another attraction in Forest Park.

Unlike most museums of this caliber, admission to the museum and all regular exhibits is free, supported by a cultural tax residents imposed to keep the museum and other cultural attractions in the city accessible to all. A charge is applied to special or featured exhibits; however, even those are free to the public on Fridays during the exhibition period. Open Tuesday through Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and until 9:00 p.m. on Fridays, the museum should be one of your top destinations the next time you're in the St. Louis area.

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Iris McCammon
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Posted on Mar 7, 2012