The Saint Louis Art Museum will unveil its much-anticipated new expansion this weekend during a grand opening celebration featuring inspiring art, hands-on projects and festive performances.
On June 29 and 30, the public can take its first glimpse of the new building, as well as a revamped main museum. The multi-year project has been a labor of love, according to Tricia Paik, assistant curator of modern and contemporary art. “It will be an entirely new museum that we are presenting. We are extremely excited to show this gem to the public.”
Construction on the sleek and modern new addition designed by architect Sir David Chipperfield began in January 2010 and was completed last summer. “We really wanted to construct a building that is of our time, but that would also be in concert with the 1904 building,” Paik explains.
The expansion boasts 21 new galleries, featuring contemporary, exhibition and ancient galleries. Through 85 multimedia pieces, the permanent collection of contemporary art gallery traces the development of post-war American art from 1945 to present day, showing influences of '20s and '30s European art with surrealism, the minimalism movement of the '60s in New York, as well as contemporary pop art. Featured artists include Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Andy Warhol, Donald Judd and Kiki Smith. “The gallery shows America’s interest in the act of creating art, not just the end-product,” Paik notes.
The Featured Exhibition Galleries displays 60 works from the museum’s extensive post-war German collection, including sculpture, drawings, prints, photography, and the largest paintings in the world by Ernst Kirchner and Emil Nolde, among others. And Gallery 259 holds the museum’s impressive collection of ancient art.
The new space also will be home to large-scale permanent and rotating exhibitions, such as an extraordinary limestone art piece—Andy Goldsworthy’s Stone Sea, featuring 25 10-foot arches that merge the new galleries and main museum, and Yoko Ono’s ongoing Wish Tree project, where visitors can attach their wishes written on small pieces of paper to a branch on the Wish Tree, which will be sent to Reykjavík, Iceland’s Imagine Peace Tower, created by Ono in memory of her late husband, John Lennon.
Paik says the new galleries allow the art museum to show the great breadth and strength of its collection. The current exhibitions will be on view for six months, with new works being added in late January.
Guests also will find multiple new amenities beyond the expansion’s doors, from the Panorama restaurant to an underground 300-space parking garage.
During the opening weekend celebration, the public can enjoy activities outside the expansion. On June 29, festivities will open with a 9:30 a.m. ribbon-cutting ceremony, followed by live performances, food booths and hands-on art from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and an evening celebration from 7 to 10 p.m. featuring more performers, restaurant vendors—and of course, breathtaking art. The celebration continues noon to 5 p.m. June 30. The new addition's opening year is sponsored by Edward Jones.