St. Louis Art Museum

Forest Park in dawn’s early light

(Click on the photo to see a larger picture on a separate picture page.)

Forest Park in St. Louis remains the crown jewel of the greater St. Louis area. A visitor will find an incredible array of amenities that are not found in most U.S. cities, or even in great cities of the world.

The park features a world-class art museum, an excellent history museum run the Missouri Historical Society, a popular public golf course, miles of trails for bikes and pedestrians, the world-class St. Louis Zoo, nature areas, festivals, lagoons, and occasionally visiting wildlife. I saw a snowy egret on one of my morning runs last weekend.

A nonprofit organization called Forest Park Forever now provides strong organizational and fiscal support to steer the park’s development and strategic planning needs. Given the fiscal challenges facing St. Louis, this approach likely will pay strong dividends for the entire metro region, which collectively benefits from having a free and accessible public park of this stature.

As a former University City resident (raised there) and longtime visitor to the St. Louis area over the decades, I cannot separate my love of the park from my concern for the metro region. The park’s current success in fulfilling its mission remains at odds with the prolonged pain of the City of St. Louis’s decline and de-urbanization. One needs to keep in mind the larger challenges facing the city, and its many residents who are struggling and whom the park serves, if you come and enjoy it any day of the year.

I took all of these pictures on a three-mile stroll along Lindell Boulevard to the Missouri HistoryMuseum, to the St. Louis Art Museum, through the wildflower savannah off Skinker Boulevard, and back to my starting point. You cannot beat a St. Louis morning walk like this in Forest Park!

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The crown cultural jewel of St. Louis

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.)

Some St. Louis Art Museum treasures, seen through a GoPro

The St. Louis Art Museum was built for the 1904 World’s Fair. It replicates the Roman Baths of Caracalla. The museum is free to all who enter. I have been coming here for decades now, now just on the family visits. Today I brought my GoPro to capture some of the more well-known pieces in the museum’s great catalogue, modern and ancient. If you come to the city, put this on your to do list. (Click on each photograph to see a larger picture on a separate picture page.)