David Chipperfield’s understated addition to the Saint Louis Art Museum is nearing completion, with an opening target of June. The wing will increase gallery and public amenity space by 30 percent, and create a new home for the museum’s modern and contemporary holdings, including its notable collection of postwar German art. Also in the works, tentatively to be completed next year, will be an outdoor sculpture court designed by the renowned French landscape architect Michel Desvigne.
Inside, the galleries are illuminated from above by daylight filtered through skylights set with a monumental concrete grid. The massing and heft of the addition, and the scale and proportions of the galleries, recall and defer to the original Cass Gilbert-designed main building.
The museum’s motto, “dedicated to art and free for all,” encapsulates why it has been a beloved civic institution for St. Louis residents for more than a century. Situated in Forest Park, the museum welcomes both dedicated art lovers and casual visitors looking only for a water fountain or a break from the heat. Chipperfield’s expansion will help serve a broad and inclusive public with dignity, something—in the age of blockbuster exhibitions and $20 admissions—more museums could stand to emulate.