St. Louis Art Museum Opens $130 Million Dollar Expansion

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ST. LOUIS, MO. (KPLR) - The wraps came off the $130 million expansion of the St. Louis Art Museum, Saturday.

The entire museum closed for the first time in history, for 13 days, to allow for finishing touches on the new Chipperfield addition, or “East Building”.

People were wowed upon setting foot inside of it;  the addition, named for the architect who designed it.  He seemed wowed by the people’s response.

“It’s really been a great journey, sort of regenerating one’s optimism,” Sir David Chipperfield said, talking to a crowd gathered for a ribbon cutting before the opening.

“It’s amazing. It’s modern.  It’s beautiful.  It’s refreshing,” said Kimberly Jacobs, a visitor from Jackson, MS.

Freida Wheaton/Art Museum Commissioner: “Oh my gosh, it is wonderful for St. Louis!  it’s wonderful for the arts community in the state of the Missouri and throughout the world,” said Art Museum Commissioner, Freida Wheaton.

St. Louis Mayor, Francis Slay, was among the first time visitors.

He said the rave reviews were a sign the art museum expansion went beyond the art museum, beyond Forest Park, even way, way, beyond St. Louis.

“The design itself is something that’s not only getting national, but it’ll be getting international attention.  It really raises the level of art and culture that we’re able to provide here in St. Louis and does keep St. Louis in the forefront,” Slay said.

Visitors from France even compared it to “the” museum of all art museums – the Louvre.

“Yes, I think this museum is a little museum of Louvre in Paris.  Really, there’s lots of things very interesting here,” said Tarik Lahrach, in a heavy French accent.

German architect, Julie Bauer, who spent 8 years with Chipperfield on the design, with its unique coffered ceiling, incorporating natural light, coming in through windows above, said the art in the 21 new galleries from this work made St. Louiis a real player in the art world.

“I think your collection is pretty impressive.  My dad is an art teacher.  He was just here last night.  He couldn’t believe that the Betty  was here.  It’s the Mona Lisa of modern art.  I think you’re pretty high up,” she said.

Higher than 13 days ago.

The new building adds 30% more exhibit space.  About 25% of the works now on display haven’t been seen in 20 years.  The museum’s new restaurant, Panorama, opens Monday.

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