Category Archives: TOURIST TREKKING
A Journal Of My Travels Around The Wicket City
Cass Gilbert’s Palace Of Fine Art has been a treasure of Saint Louis since it open at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition of 1904 … more commonly known as the Saint Louis World’s Fair. After the fair closed and the fairgrounds were restored to their original condition, the Saint Louis Art Museum which had been established in 1879 and housed in downtown Saint Louis moved to the Romanesque building in the park where it has been a popular attraction for residents and visitors for over 100-years. The inscription carved on the front of the building might have been the reason for this.
DEDICATED TO ART AND FREE TO ALL!
Even though the building has three floors and contains 75 galleries a lot of the museum’s collection has been in storage for years and gone unseen by the public. To correct this problem, an addition to the original building had long been planned and three years ago ground was broken for this building. Last weekend the new East Building with 21-galleries was opened to the public. And I was there!
To be honest, my bus arrived at the entrance to the park at 9:00. To walk into the park and climb Art Hill took me fifteen minutes. So I actually arrived at the ceremony site at 9:15. But since everyone except VIPs and those with handicaps also had to walk up the hill, I beat most of them to the event site to be in position for the start of ceremonies.
Brent R. Benjamin – Museum Director, Francis Slay – Mayor City of St. Louis, Sir David Chipperfield – Architect and Jay Nixon – Governor of the State of Missouri.
Cutting the ribbon!
And the assembled crowd joined the cues to wait their turn to get inside and experience the new car smells of an art museum. When the new building was announced, the general consensus was that the design of the new building would over shadow the original Romanesque building. It’s amazing how it seems to blend into the natural setting around it.
Whatever your tastes in art, the museum at the top of Art Hill is a fantastic place to visit.
In Saint Louis, CWE stands for CENTRAL WEST END which is a historic part of the city where the elite (people and pets) meet to eat, shop and just people watch on sunny weekend days. Here is photographic mosaic I shot on Saturday when I was out with a couple of friends. You can click on the little images to view a larger version and read my commentary.
Tourists always welcome in Saint Louis. And it’s a great place for a budget vacation.
Well, after three days of racing against the arrival of yet another week of daily rain I finally wore my self out mowing too tall grass, weed whacking invasive growths and reseeding the bare spots left by last years total drought. I don’t think we’re going to be worrying about that this year. And weather-wise, the weather wizards have removed the snow potential from the local forecasts … just rain from late today to next Wednesday.
The finishing touches are underway in the museum’s new addition scheduled to open at the end of June. In the original Cass Gilbert Palace Of Fine Art (1904) all the galleries have been repainted, spruced up and rehung with a lot of art that has been in storage for years.
The first work on the east end of the building appears to represent historic art and culture. In his right hand he holds a mini-Sphinx and in his left a symbolic tool. Feel free to comment if you can identify it. As you can see, the pigeons have not been kind to the young man. (Did you know that if you click on the photo, you will get an enlarged image? Click in that image and you will get an extreme closeup of the image.)
The first thing you see when you enter the museum is the Sculpture Hall.Gilbert based his design for the museum on the ancient Roman Baths of Caracalla. Or what historians imagine what it looked like.
The center panel of Monet’s Water Lily Triptych
A smaller work by Seurat.
Well, that ends the Art Trekking for today. Hope you enjoyed it!
To be continued …
IMPERIAL ROME COMING UP IN PART TWO
If you’re visiting Saint Louis, be sure to add the Art Museum in Forest Park to your don’t miss list. It’s FREE to all, Tuesday through Sunday. Closed on Monday.
Forest Park is a great place to visit, and one of the highest spots in the park is a spot call ART HILL. It’s the spot where you’ll find this statue of Louis IX Saint and King of France.
And behind his statue, you’ll find the building that gives this hill its name. The Saint Louis Museum of Fine Art designed by renowned architect Cass Gilbert and built in 1904. Currently, a new expansion to the historic building is undergoing the final preparations for a grand opening in June of 2013. Many areas of the original building are being reconfigured for the expansion.
While I’ve often included many pictures of the building behind Louis’ statue, I’ve never really shown you the full view of what’s in front of the statue. Now with the aid of a panoramic camera, I’d like to show you the view of Art Hill and the City of Saint Louis that Louis IX sees.
If you click on the above photo, you’ll be able to see the enlarged panorama of Forest Park and the City Of Saint Louis on a sunny blue sky Saint Louis almost winter afternoon. ENJOY!
As promised, here is my Tourist Trek to the Saint Louis Municipal Theatre located on a hillside in Forest Park. It was established in 1917 which makes it not only the oldest, but also the largest outdoor theater in the US. The first production in 1917 was actually the opera AIDA …
and for many years it was known as the Municipal Opera. But grand opera doesn’t play there much these days and most of the local folk simply call it …
The Box-office and whatever you call a mural on the ground.
The theater seats 11,000 people for each performance. And the last nine rows or 1,500 seats are FREE SEATS that are given away on a first-come basis. I’ve spent a lot of summer evenings in the FREE SEATS.The stage is rather large, too. So the big production numbers really are BIG! The center of the stage is the world’s largest revolving stage, which allows for some pretty fast scene changes.
The Muny season runs from June to August with six to eight musical productions each year that range from the latest Broadway hits to the sentimental favorites from the past. And while Saint Louis summers do occasionally get a little hot, the theater’s location in the tree-shaded park make it one of the cooler locations in town for an enjoyable summer evening … except when it rains.
Since March 16, 2007, I have been posting my various treks and explorations across the Wicket City on this and a previous journal. I called my called my local turf the Wicket City in both jest and tribute to that giant stainless steel arch that stands on our riverfront welcoming visitors to all our fair city has to offer. So naturally I was heartbroken last week when I heard the results of a 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair poll that listed our local focal point as the least impressive national monument in the country.
Now, personally, I have nothing against Vanity Fair, and I’ve never referred to it as the least impressive piece of printed snobbery. Likewise, I’ve never called 60 Minutes a convenient time-filler between sundry sports events and real Sunday night video programing. The Wicket City, the Arch and I will recover from our national slight, And to prove it, I’d like to share a video that also was released last week. Here is Saint Louis!
Thankfully, there are a lot of benches around the MOBOT grounds for foot-weary visitor who have completed the 2.5 mile trek around the grounds viewing all 26 lantern creations. The break was also necessary because we’re still in the midst of summer days, and the MAGIC can’t start until the sun has set which in garden time is about 8 pm. Also those in the know didn’t start showing up until shortly before eight. We had decided we weren’t going to repeat the entire trek around the garden, and we were just going to revisit a few of our favorites we wanted to see illuminated. Don’t forget you can enlarge any picture by clicking on it.
It was a great presentation and I encourage all who can to visit it — it will run up until August 19. Dining from 5:30 – 8:00 in the Sassafras Cafe/Visiter’s Center and from 6:00 – 10:00 at the The Lantern Festival Food Court in the Linnean Plaza.
If you’ll remember, yesterday’s post left us resting on a Victorian bench in Mr. Shaw’s front yard drinking Ice Mountain Water and catching cool breezes before starting on the second half of our trek through the second half of the Chinese Lantern Festival.
We begin with GODDESS BLESSING BUDDHA …
And move on to THE FIRST EMPEROR’S QUEST FOR IMMORTALITY …
Next up is an illustration of a fable about the creation of the Milky Way THE DOUBLE SEVENTH FESTIVAL – cowherd boy marries weaver girl without asking mom who is the Goddess. Goddess gets pissed and brings girl back to heaven. Boy keeps looking for her so mom creates a wide river (aka. The Milky Way) to keep them apart. But one night a year … the seventh night of the seventh moon … all the magpies on earth fly up to heaven to form a bridge so the two lovers can be united.
From heaven we encounter THE FLYING APSARAS …
The next stop is THE FOUR FACED BUDDHA … even though you can only see three.
THE BUTTERFLY LOVERS illustrates the century old Chinese version of Romeo and Juliet …
Next is a gigantic panoramic lantern NINE DRAGON MURAL …
THE HEAVENLY TEMPLE …
THE COLORFUL FLOWER … leads us to the Garden’s official Chinese Garden …
Then on to the BLISSFUL WEDDING that reminds me of a Chinese Small World.
Which brings us to the last lantern … QILIN which is a rare creature made up of many animal forms both real and mythical. The lantern Qilin is made up of many recycled glass bottles.
But this trek isn’t over yet … come back for the GRAND FINALE when the sun sets and the lanterns light up!
Well, since it took me two days to get through the 150 pictures I took during my four hour visit to the Missouri Botanical Garden’s Chinese Lantern Festival on Thursday … this post will not only a day late, but also be sent in two parts on two days.
The Lantern Festival is this summer’s featured attraction at the Garden, and on Thursday through Sunday is has special evening hours (6 to 10) where you can view the lanterns in both daylight … and once the sun sets with their own inner illumination. Oh, and by the way, these are not your ordinary hardware store lanterns, these are the same kind of massive illuminations that were created by Chinese artisans for the Summer Olympics in Beijing four-years ago.
You get an idea of what to expect when you drive into the Garden’s parking lot and come face to face with this block long dragon. (Note: you can view any photo in a large size by clicking by clicking on it … and still larger by clicking on it a second time.)
DRAGON EMBRACING THE PILLERS The Garden’s central fountain features a large dragon surrounded by four fish like dragons …
… at each corner of the reflecting pool.
LOTUS FLOWERS and LOTUS PONDS
The Garden’s Central Axis features a face off between two PORCELAIN DRAGONS …
Both dragons are made from porcelain plates, bowls, cups and saucers … about 45,000 to create each dragon.
This SAIL BOAT was made from reclaimed plastic bottles.
You’ll discover the PANDA’S PARADISE!
Who doesn’t like cute little pandas?
But even better than pandas, we noticed Mr. Shaw himself offering us a chance to sit down and take a break. In case you didn’t know, this is Mr. Shaw’s garden. He built it around his home, and when he was done enjoying it he left it to the people of Saint Louis to enjoy forever.
And what better place to take a break — the second half of our trek continues tomorrow.
It’s been there since 1904 and it was one of the few permanent buildings built for the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition also known as the Saint Louis World’s Fair. And it was built to display the art of the world. On my way to the Zoo on Tuesday (which is right down the block) I stopped to check the progress of the expansion program. I’m happy to report that a lot of the construction fencing is down, the new addition building is complete from the outside, the workmen were working on the paving in front of the new building and they grading the area prior to starting the landscaping.
I believe the circular forms are where the three rows of trees in front of the building will be planted. Between now and the opening of the new extension next year they will be testing and air, humidity, heating and lighting in the building. Only when they all check out will they begin moving and installing the art in the new galleries. The new building (gray) will access the 1904 building on the east and south sides as shown in the model.
So this time next year I should be posting about my first visit to the new building.