Designed by award winning British architect David Chipperfield, the very modern expansion features a dark polished concrete facade, floor to ceiling windows and skylights in the galleries. It’s a stark contrast to the main building built in 1904 for the World’s Fair. Located in one of America’s most splendid urban parks, next to one of St. Louis’ grandest structures, the new East Building at the St. Louis Art Museum aspires to be adored on its own terms. White oak floors and a dark polished facade, skylights and concrete coffers – the East Building is both airy and weighty. The Gold LEED-certified building is 210,000 square feet and features 21 galleries, a 300-space underground garage, a restaurant and a gift shop. The $160 million project also includes classrooms and updated galleries.
“Visitors expect a gracious experience, and they should have it,” Museum director Brent Benjamin says.
Strolling through the gallery spaces in the new building: Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Frank Stella, Ellsworth Kelly, Andy Warhol, Donald Judd are among the artists, whose work is now accessible to the public. Also at the museum: Sigmar Polke’s Why Can’t I Stop Smoking? (1964), a work infused with deadpan humor; Richard Long’s Mississippi Circle (1988), composed of river rocks; Andy Goldsworthy’s Stone Sea, 25 10-foot stone arches, each weighing approximately 13 tons, constructed of limestone sourced from the Earthworks Quarry in Perryville, Missouri; and Chuck Close’s Keith (1970), a hyper-realistic portrait.
The east building houses the museum’s contemporary art and temporary exhibitions. It allows the museum to showcase its vast modern collection, displaying artwork that hasn’t been seen in more than a decade.To find out more go to the St. Louis Art Museum website www.slam.org.