Museum to Close May 22 for Expansion

Exterior rendering of the new stainless steel façade of the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum. © KieranTimberlake.

Posted by Liam Otten May 10, 2018


This summer, after years of planning and preparation, the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum at Washington University in St. Louis will commence a major expansion designed to increase exhibition programs and showcase the museum’s renowned permanent collection.

At 7p Friday, May 4, the museum will mark the start of construction with a special “Building the Future” celebration. The event, which coincides with the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts' 2018 MFA Thesis Exhibition, will be the last opening reception before the Museum closes to the public May 22.

“As we embark on this remarkable journey, we are immensely grateful to the Kemper family, Museum members, and other friends for their ongoing support and for the support and leadership of Anabeth and John Weil,” said Sabine Eckmann, the William T. Kemper Director and chief curator.

“During construction, we will remain busy preparing for the next chapter in the Museum’s history,” Eckmann added. “Our staff will continue researching and organizing future displays of the permanent collection and special exhibitions and developing a new collection database and museum website.

“It will be an eventful 18 months!”

Led by architecture firm KieranTimberlake, the expansion comes as part of Washington University’s larger east end transformation. Work to the Museum will include a dramatic new stainless steel façade and northern entrance foyer; the new James M. Kemper Gallery; and a redesigned Florence Steinberg Weil Sculpture Garden.

The Museum will reopen to the public in fall 2019, when the east end transformation is scheduled to be completed.

While the public galleries are closed, the Kemper Art Museum will host a variety of off-site programs, and a selection of artworks from the permanent collection will be displayed at the Saint Louis Art Museum. The Kenneth and Nancy Kranzberg Art & Architecture Library, located on the Museum’s lower level, will remain open. Students, faculty, and visiting scholars will have continued access, by appointment, to the Museum Study Room.

Newman Money Museum Closure

The Newman Money Museum, which has been housed within the Kemper Art Museum for the last 12 years, permanently closed April 27. But some items from the Newman Money Museum will remain on campus as part of Washington University’s recently completed Newman Tower of Collections and Exploration, which was formally dedicated May 1.

Located within the newly renovated John M. Olin Library, the Newman Tower will spotlight objects from the Department of Special Collections as well as loaned artifacts and small-scale exhibits curated by students and faculty.

Inaugural displays include information about the life of money, from the early screw press to the decay of today’s currency, as well as St. Louis Browns memorabilia, Biedermeier greeting cards and a handwritten invoice from Michelangelo.

About the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum

One of the oldest teaching museums in the United States, the Kemper Art Museum was established in 1881 as the St. Louis School and Museum of Fine Arts, a department of Washington University. Its collection was formed largely by acquiring significant works by artists of the time—a legacy that continues to this day.

Now one of the nation’s finest university museums, the Kemper Art Museum contains strong holdings of 19th-, 20th-, and 21st-century European and American paintings, sculptures, prints, installations, and photographs. The collection also includes some Egyptian and Greek antiquities and more than 100 Old Master prints.

In 2004, the Kemper Art Museum became part of the Washington University’s newly formed Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts. Its current facility, designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Fumihiko Maki, opened in 2006.

About the east end transformation

The east end transformation broke ground in May 2017, and in addition to the museum expansion, it includes five new campus buildings: Anabeth and John Weil Hall, the Gary M. Sumers Welcome Center, the Craig and Nancy Schnuck Pavilion, all designed by KieranTimberlake with Tao + Lee; Henry A. and Elvira H. Jubel Hall, designed by Moore Ruble Yudell and Mackey Mitchell; and James M. McKelvey, Sr. Hall, designed by Perkins Eastman with patterhn ives LLC.

Linking these buildings together will be Ann and Andrew Tisch Park and surrounding landscape, designed by Michael Vergason Landscape Architects Ltd., a welcoming green space designed to promote sustainability and pedestrian movement, as well as an underground parking garage designed by BNIM.

For more information about the east end transformation, visit For questions about the Newman Money Museum, contact Tom Serfass at