About the Museum Expansion

Posted by Kemper Art Museum March 21, 2019

Expanded Museum Opens September 28 with New Galleries, Acquisitions & Amenities

A striking new 34-foot-tall polished stainless-steel facade will draw visitors to the expanded Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum where new and reconfigured galleries will more than double the exhibition space for the Museum's important collection. The building’s pleated surface will reflect the dynamic movement of campus and sky while sparking curiosity and inviting interaction. It will set the stage for both the outstanding collection and the thought-provoking exhibitions to be experienced within.

The Museum will reopen September 28 with Ai Weiwei: Bare Life, a thematic exhibition that will offer new insight into the celebrated Chinese artist’s work on human rights and his deep engagement with China’s past—from the rupture of the Cultural Revolution to the radical shifts that have characterized the new millennium. On view through January 5, 2020, the exhibition will feature more than 35 artworks, created in a wide variety of media over the last two decades. Highlights will include several new large-scale projects created for this exhibition as well as works never before exhibited in the United States.

Ai Weiwei (Chinese, b. 1957), Through, 2007–8. Tables, beams, and pillars from dismantled temples of the Qing Dynasty (1644–1911), 550 x 850 x 1380 cm. Courtesy of Ai Weiwei Studio.

Ai Weiwei (Chinese, b. 1957), Through, 2007–8. Tables, beams, and pillars from dismantled temples of the Qing Dynasty (1644–1911), 550 x 850 x 1380 cm. Courtesy of Ai Weiwei Studio.

Entering the Museum, visitors will encounter a soaring new glass-lined lobby. Suspended overhead will be a dramatic new installation by artist Tomás Saraceno (whose work the Museum surveyed in 2012), a network of iridescent modules and interconnected ropes suggesting a utopian vision of life in the sky. The new 2,700-square-foot James M. Kemper Gallery, with its double-height walls, will showcase a range of postwar and contemporary art. On the second floor, the reconfigured Gertrude Bernoudy Gallery will provide an intimate viewing experience for major 19th- and early 20th-century European and American works.

Outside, the reinstalled Florence Steinberg Weil Sculpture Garden—designed by Michael Vergason Landscape Architects—will extend the Museum’s reach into the surrounding, park-like setting, also designed by MVLA. Situated just north of Weil Hall, along a primary pedestrian thoroughfare, the sculpture garden will feature iconic sculptures such as Auguste Rodin’s The Shade and Alexander Calder’s Five Rudders as well as a new commission by acclaimed contemporary artist Dan Graham.

Other renovations—led by Escher GuneWardena Architecture in partnership with Trivers—will include a first-floor coffee bar and a suite of new galleries on the Museum’s lower level that will open in February 2020. The largest of these will showcase works on paper, ranging from Old Master prints and drawings to experimental 20th- and 21st-century multiples and photography. The lower level also will include the Museum’s first permanent space devoted to video art; an expanded Teaching Gallery to accommodate larger classes; and the new Stair Gallery, highlighting seldom-seen historical objects from the collection.

The expansion will create exciting new opportunities for public dialogue and prolonged visual engagement. Taken together, these changes will provide visitors with a powerful aesthetic experience while improving the Museum’s ability to realize temporary exhibitions, collaborate with peer institutions, and showcase works that have only rarely been on view.  

Read the full story about the expansion and the Sam Fox School's new Anabeth and John Weil Hall >>

During the Closure

Students, faculty, and visiting scholars continue to have access, by appointment, to the Museum Study Room. A selection of artworks from the permanent collection is on display at the Saint Louis Art Museum, and the Museum continues to host select off-site programs

News Stories

Expanded Kemper Art Museum to Reopen in September, Artforum, 3.21.19 >>

Ai Weiwei Exhibition To Open Expanded Kemper Art Museum In September, St. Louis Public Radio, 3.21.19 >>

The Kemper is reopening this fall with a blockbuster exhibit: 'Ai Weiwei: Bare Life,' St. Louis Magazine, 3.21.19 >>

"Monumental Undertaking" Under Way, 5.13.17 >>

Groundbreaking ceremony marks start of university’s east end transformation project, 5.11.17 >>

Designs Shared for East End of Danforth Campus, 10.11.16 >>

Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum to Expand, 10.10.16 >>

Transforming the East End of the Danforth Campus, 10.5.15 >>

Architect Named for Weil Hall, Sam Fox School, 4.13.15 >>

Media Contacts

Allison Therrien, atherrien@fitzandco.art, 646.589.0921
Meg Blackburn, mblackburn@fitzandco.art, 212.620.7390
Liam Otten, liam_otten@wustl.edu, 314.935.8494
Carin Whitney, cwhitney@kierantimberlake.com, 215.922.6600 x142

Additional Images