Associated Organizations

Saint Louis Art Museum


The Saint Louis Art Museum began as the St. Louis School and Museum of Fine Arts. The museum was originally part of Washington University. The museum’s founder, Wayman T. Crow, gave the land where the original museum was built at the corner of Locust and 19th Streets, and funded the project as a memorial for his son. The building was designed by the architects Peabody and Stearns, from Boston. At the end of the 19th century, the museum’s Board of Control proposed that the museum move to Forest Park. In 1900 this request was approved.

The museum’s move coincided with the 1904 St. Louis Louisiana Purchase Centennial Exposition, and the central pavilion of the Art Palace was planned as a permanent structure and a new home for the museum. The building was designed by the architect Cass Gilbert. The Museum reopened in this building in 1906. In 1909, following a vote creating a municipal tax to support the museum,  the museum was formally separated from Washington University and became the City Art Museum of St. Louis. 

In 1971, the taxing district that supported the museum was expanded to include St. Louis County. After this event, the museum’s name became the Saint Louis Art Museum. In 2013, the Museum opened the East Building; it was designed by the architect David Chipperfield. The Grace Taylor Broughton Sculpture Garden was opened in 2015; it was designed by architect Michele Desvigne. 

The museum’s collection is an encyclopedic collection spanning world cultures and including 34,000 objects over 5,000 years of history.  The museum’s collections include works in American Art, Ancient Art, Art of Africa, Oceania and the Americas, Asian Art, Decorative Arts, European Art, Islamic Art, Modern and Contemporary Art, and Prints, Drawings and Photographs.  The museum acquired works through purchases and through gifts from St. Louis collectors.

Select Sources

Osmund Overby, “The Saint Louis Art Museum: An Architectural History,” Saint Louis Art Museum Bulletin 18 (Fall 1987): 1-41.

Brent R. Benjamin, “A Brief History of the Collection,” in Saint Louis Art Museum. Handbook of the Collection (Saint Louis: Saint Louis Art Museum, 2004): 7-16.

“Architecture,” Saint Louis Art Museum, accessed April 26, 2021.

“Collection,” Saint Louis Art Museum, accessed April 13, 2021,


Roberta Wagener, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

Record Published

Published on September 20, 2021

Saint Louis, Missouri
Known As
City Art Museum
St. Louis Art Museum
St. Louis Museum of Fine Arts
Saint Louis Museum of Fine Arts
City Art Museum of St. Louis
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