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Saint Louis Art Museum Marks One Year on Major Expansion
A 17-foot-tall construction barrier has fully enclosed the south end of Sculpture Hall and will remain in place until spring 2011 while work on the new central staircase is underway.
ST. LOUIS, MO, (SLFP.com), January 30, 2011 - The Saint Louis Art Museum has announced significant progress after one year of construction on its more-than-200,000-square-foot, David Chipperfield-designed expansion in Forest Park.
The perimeter of the new 300-plus-space parking garage is completely enclosed and floors are being constructed. In the Main Building crews are preparing for the construction of a new central staircase, which will connect Sculpture Hall to the Lower Level and a new public concourse that will integrate the new and existing facilities, including the newly renovated Museum Shop, Auditorium and Education Center.
The Level 1 concourse will also connect with an expanded cafe, as well as link visitors to the new underground garage. In preparation for this work, a construction barrier has fully enclosed the south end of Sculpture Hall. The 17-foot-tall structure will remain in place until spring 2011 while work on the new central staircase is underway.
"We have entered an exciting phase in this project," said Museum Director Brent R. Benjamin. "This is when we begin to physically connect the original building with the expansion. In the coming months the new building will begin to take shape."
An expanded Education Center is included in the renovation plans for the South Building. The Museum's Board of Commissioners appointed TAO + Lee Associates, Inc. architect for the Education Center in June 2010. To better serve the Museum's education program, the project includes new classrooms and multi-use spaces.
The Neptune Fountain, which graced the center of Sculpture Hall for 52 years, will be reinstalled at the Museum's South Building Entrance as part of the planned school group entrance.
The Museum announced the public phase of its $145 million Campaign for the Saint Louis Art Museum on January 19, 2010. Artist and entrepreneur Mary Engelbreit is the chair of the public phase. As of December 31, 2010, gifts to the campaign totaled more than $142 million. The $130.5 million project, along with a supporting endowment of $31.2 million, is being underwritten by private philanthropy, foundation support and proceeds from the sale of tax exempt bonds. While tax proceeds continue to provide critical annual support for the Museum's operations, no tax funds will be used for the expansion.
As of November 30, 2010 the endowment stood at $95.6 million, an 8.8 percent increase year to year. The Museum's endowment marked a historic high on January 3 when it surpassed $100 million. This is the result of contributions, proceeds of the gala, fiscal prudence and kinder forces in the market.
"The endowment will be an important resource to support a significantly larger Museum enterprise and is a critical portion of the Campaign," said Carl Hamm, deputy director for development and external affairs.
When complete the overall expansion will represent a 30 percent increase in the Museum's gallery and public space and will more than double its prior parking capacity. The Museum remains open to the public during construction.
The Saint Louis Art Museum is one of the leading art museums with more than 100 galleries. The building was designed by famed architect Cass Gilbert as the Palace of Fine Arts for the 1904 World's Fair in Forest Park. Standing atop Art Hill, it is the "crown" jewel" of the 1,370-acre park. The Grand Basin is the lake at the foot of Art Hill and served as the focal point of the 1904 World's Fair.
Crusader King Louis IX in front of the Saint Louis Art Museum
The Museum's collections feature more than 30,000 art treasures from ancient times to the present. Highlights include art of the Renaissance, masterpieces of Impressionism, American European Art, Asian art, Period Rooms, the Egyptian mummy, and world-renowned collections of pre-Columbian and German Expressionist art.
The Museum provided $10 million for improvements to Art Hill and nearby areas including: reconstruction of Fine Arts Drive in the front of the Museum between the front stairway and the statue of St. Louis; the street and the area around the landmark statue is now paved with granite; construction of two curved, tree-lined walkways, or promenades, extending about 250 yards in each direction from the statue of St. Louis to the existing circular parking areas; construction of scenic overlooks near the expanded circular parking areas; landscaping of the two promenades and of the entire area with ornamental trees and decorative lighting; and new parking adjacent to the scenic overlooks.
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