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Design Defined: Museums - Ladue News: Design

Design Defined: Museums

A Museum Tour

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Posted: Wednesday, October 15, 2008 12:00 am

With fall comes the desire to roam and take in all the beauty and color nature has to offer. Recently I took such a jaunt with the Saint Louis Art Museum Beaux Arts Council. The museum planned such an amazing little getaway that I thought you might be interested in the same autumn adventure yourself! 

On our first day out we boarded our luxury motor coach and headed west. Our first stop: the quaint and historic town of Arrow Rock (arrowrock.org). This town was founded in 1829 on the western bluffs of the Missouri River. This was a very important river port in its day and home to three Missouri governors! Our interest was, of course, that it was also the home of George Caleb Bingham, the well-known artist. We toured the town, Bingham’s home and had lunch at Arrow Rock Tavern, established in 1843 (the best fried chicken I’ve had since my grandmother’s!) On our way out of town, we toured the Sappington Mansion. This home is privately owned now, but we were allowed to tour this fine example of antebellum architecture. The home was originally owned by Dr. Sappington, who invented and made his fortune with quinine. Next stop…Kansas City.


The second day began with a private tour of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art (nelson-atkins.org), specifically the new Bloch wing (yes, named for Henry Block of H&R Block fame). We toured the permanent collection, as well as the current exhibit, ‘Art in the Age of Steam, Europe, America and the Railway, 1830-1960.’ This was a wonderful exhibit pertaining to the depiction of the railroad through history in different forms of medium-well worth seeing. On to lunch at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art. After a culinary treat at Cafe Sebastienne, we were given a private tour of their collection.

    We then had the fortunate opportunity to tour three private collections. It was an amazing experience from both an art, decorative arts and architecture standpoint. For me, seeing the architecture and furnishings and how they related to the art was as thrilling as seeing the Manets, Warhols, Cezannes, Lichtensteins, Rauschenbergs and all the rest! The day finished in the Crossroads Art District for its first Friday festivities and dinner. What a day!


    Our final day began with a private tour of the brand- new Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art (www.jccc.edu/museum) located on the campus of the Johnson County Community College. This new, 38,000- square-foot museum is the largest of its kind in a four-state area. The building was designed by famed Japanese architect Kyu sung Woo. The permanent collection began in 1980. It now also houses the Oppenheimer collection, as well. On display through Dec. 14, 2008, is the most marvelous photography exhibit: ‘Architecture of Authority’ by Richard Ross and ‘Copia’ by Brian Ulrich. This is probably one of the most thought-provoking exhibits I’ve ever seen.

    Our final stop was the bluff-top winery of the Les Bourgeois restaurant (missouriwine.com) in Rocheport, Mo. We dined on the top floor, giving us the feeling that we were in a treehouse as we were overlooking the bluffs and foliage of the Missouri River.

    If you want to enjoy the fall colors in an artful way, this is the way to do it. There are great antiques shops in the small towns and amazing stores in The Plaza in Kansas City. Also, don’t forget the museum shops. Consider joining our own Beaux Arts Council at the Saint Louis Art Museum (www.slam.org). It’s an investment in our city’s art-filled future!

for more photos!

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