It's hard to think of a museum as keyed into its city's history as the Saint Louis Art Museum. Built in 1904 for the World's Fair, the edifice perfectly reflects the Beaux Arts taste that dominated the turn of the century. But what makes the Saint Louis Art Museum our best museum this year
? A combination of things: the inauguration of the expansion project; the realization of several of director Brent Benjamin's goals for the galleries; the museum's participation in the Contemporary Art Partnership alongside the Pulitzer Foundation and the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis; and some phenomenal exhibitions (think Painted Prints
, Christina Shmigel, Dox Thrash, Art of the Mughals
, Ellen Gallagher and the American Summer
show). This year the museum also acquired the Neumann-Franklin collection of Max Beckmann prints, along with sixteen major works of postwar German art, enhancing its world-renowned German collection. The museum is open every day except Monday, from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. (9 p.m. on Friday). Admission is free for members and little kids, $6 to $10 otherwise (depending on your age) and free to all on Friday. It would be easy for a museum of this caliber to sit there on Art Hill and look pretty, but the Saint Louis Art Museum just keeps getting bigger and better.