The portico on the entrance to the St. Louis Art Museum reads “dedicated to art and free to all.” That is a simple, elegant, and powerful mission statement. It remains free to this day. The structure, designed after the Roman Baths of Caracalla, was built for the 1904 World’s Fair. The museum contains some great treasures, including classic American oil paintings from the 1800s (think George Caleb Bingham and his Raftsman Playing Cards), a large collection of paintings by Expressionist painter Max Beckman, a superb gallery of Polynesian art, a dizzying array of West African art, and so much more. A lot of money from a lot of rich people has enabled this institution to amass this collection.
I always visit the building during my trips to see family there. No trip to St. Louis is complete without standing under the statue of Louis IX, for whom French settlers named this once great American city. Here are four views of the entrance to the museum and the statue any St. Louisan knows. (Click on each photo to see a larger picture on a separate picture page.)