Kemper Art Museum to unveil new galleries Feb. 7

Lower-level renovations highlight teaching, video and works on paper

The Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum’s new main entrance, which opened last September. Suspended overhead is “Cosmic Filaments” (2019), a site-specific commission by artist Tomás Saraceno. (Photo: Joshua White/

The Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum at Washington University in St. Louis will unveil a suite of five new galleries Feb. 7, during the opening reception for its spring exhibitions.

Situated on the museum’s lower level, the new galleries were designed by Escher GuneWardena Architecture of Los Angeles, in partnership with Trivers of St. Louis. Together, they encompass more than 2,500 square feet of exhibition space.

Last fall, the museum debuted its new James M. Kemper Gallery, which highlights postwar and contemporary art, as well as a soaring new light-filled lobby and a new 34-foot-tall stainless-steel facade. Those elements were designed by Philadelphia firm KieranTimberlake as part of the university’s $360 million East End Transformation. In all, the museum has roughly doubled the space for display of the permanent collection since renovations began in May 2017.

The five new lower-level spaces include:

Teaching Gallery. Previously located on the museum’s second floor, the expanded Teaching Gallery presents guest-curated selections from the collection in conjunction with curricular programs across campus. Opening Feb. 7 will be “Truths and Reckonings: The Art of Transformative Racial Justice,” curated by Geoff Ward, associate professor of African and African-American Studies in Arts & Sciences. The exhibition is held in conjunction with Ward’s spring seminar “Monumental Anti-Racism.”

Left: Hachivi Edgar Heap of Birds, “Telling Many Magpies, Telling Black Wolf, Telling Hachivi” (1989), screenprint. Right: Rashid Johnson, “Thurgood in the Hour of Chaos, from the portfolio America America” (2009), photolithograph. Collection of the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum.

Video Gallery. The museum’s first permanent space devoted to time-based media, the Video Gallery will open with a compilation of three videos by the Argentine artist Tomás Saraceno: “Aerocene Tata Inti — Event Horizon — Aerocene, Launches at White Sands.” The videos complement Saraceno’s site-specific commission “Cosmic Filaments” (2019), a permanent installation that debuted in the new lobby last fall.

Works on Paper Galleries. These two adjacent galleries will feature prints, drawings and photographs spanning six centuries from the museum’s collection. The inaugural displays will highlight American and European landscapes, still lifes and portraiture, from the Northern Renaissance to experimental art of the 21st century.

Stair Gallery. This new gallery will facilitate public access to seldom-seen historical objects from the collection. The inaugural selection of ancient Greek vessels offers a rare glimpse of the chronological, geographic, functional and stylistic variety of ancient Greek painted pottery — a central feature of the museum’s collection of antiquities — on extended display for the first time.

Also debuting Feb. 7 will be “Multiplied: Edition MAT and the Transformable Work of Art, 1959–1965.” On view through April 19, “Multiplied” presents a dynamic snapshot of experimental art of the post-World War II era. The reception is free and open to the public from 7 to 9 p.m.

Regular museum hours are 11 a.m.–5 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays through Sundays. The museum is closed Tuesdays.

For more information, call 314-935-4523; visit; or follow the museum on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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