ST. LOUIS, MO.- The Saint Louis Art Museum
announces significant progress after one year of construction on its more-than-200,000-square-foot, David Chipperfielddesigned expansion in Forest Park. The perimeter of the new 300-plus-space parking garage is completely enclosed and floors are being constructed. In the Main Building crews are preparing for the construction of a new central staircase, which will connect Sculpture Hall to the Lower Level and a new public concourse that will integrate the new and existing facilities, including the newly renovated Museum Shop, Auditorium and Education Center.
The Level 1 concourse will also connect with an expanded cafe, as well as link visitors to the new underground garage. In preparation for this work, a construction barrier has fully enclosed the south end of Sculpture Hall. The 17-foot-tall structure will remain in place until spring 2011 while work on the new central staircase is underway.
We have entered an exciting phase in this project, said Museum Director Brent R. Benjamin. This is when we begin to physically connect the original building with the expansion. In the coming months the new building will begin to take shape.
An expanded Education Center is included in the renovation plans for the South Building. The Museums Board of Commissioners appointed TAO + Lee Associates, Inc. architect for the Education Center in June 2010. To better serve the Museums education program, the project includes new classrooms and multi-use spaces.
The Neptune Fountain, which graced the center of Sculpture Hall for 52 years, will be reinstalled at the Museums South Building Entrance as part of the planned school group entrance.
The Museum announced the public phase of its $145 million Campaign for the Saint Louis Art Museum on January 19, 2010. Artist and entrepreneur Mary Engelbreit is the chair of the public phase. As of December 31, 2010, gifts to the campaign totaled more than $142 million. The $130.5 million project, along with a supporting endowment of $31.2 million, is being underwritten by private philanthropy, foundation support and proceeds from the sale of tax exempt bonds. While tax proceeds continue to provide critical annual support for the Museums operations, no tax funds will be used for the expansion.
As of November 30, 2010 the endowment stood at $95.6 million, an 8.8 percent increase year to year. The Museums endowment marked a historic high on January 3 when it surpassed $100 million. This is the result of contributions, proceeds of the gala, fiscal prudence and kinder forces in the market.
The endowment will be an important resource to support a significantly larger Museum enterprise and is a critical portion of the Campaign, said Carl Hamm, deputy director for development and external affairs.
When complete the overall expansion will represent a 30 percent increase in the Museums gallery and public space and will more than double its prior parking capacity. The Museum remains open to the public during construction.