Best Of 2006

Best Loan: Monets at the Saint Louis Art Museum

The Saint Louis Art Museum has some good friends. Whereas most of us might borrow a pair of shoes or a CD every now and then, this year SLAM borrowed a trio of canvases from a local private collector. Three paintings from Claude Monet's famed water-lily series—Water Lilies (1916), Wisteria Number 1 and Wisteria Number 2 (both 1920)—were loaned by an anonymous collector to complement the museum's own water-lily canvas (c. 1916-1920) in a one-room exhibition, Monet in the 20th Century, which hung in Gallery 214 from January 27 through May 21. Seeing the large-scale paintings together in one room transformed a small show into a major event. Andrew Walker, SLAM's assistant director for curatorial affairs says "the museum's holdings in many areas would be nearly nonexistent" without the support the institution receives from the St. Louis community. Indeed, it pays to have good friends: Another painting in the water-lily series sold at auction for more than $20 million in 2002.