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In conjunction with the 200th anniversary of Missouri’s statehood, Art Along the Rivers: A Bicentennial Celebration explores the remarkable artwork produced and collected over 1,000 years in the region surrounding St. Louis. The exhibition presents more than 150 objects from Missouri as far north as Hannibal, west to Hermann, and south through the Old Mines area. It also encompasses the Illinois region along the eastern bank of the Mississippi River, from Cairo north through Carbondale and Alton. Although the region that has shaped the exhibition’s objects is small, it has played an outsize role in the history of North America due to the confluence of powerful rivers and major trails and routes within its borders.

Art Along the Rivers includes a surprising range of objects that vary widely in medium, function, and the prominence of their makers. For example, it brings together Mississippian sculpture, Osage textiles, architectural drawings for iconic landmarks, musical instruments, German and Creole furniture, African American decorative arts, prize-winning paintings from the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, and contemporary artists’ responses to these historic objects. While at first these works might appear to have few connections, the exhibition arranges them by theme rather than by culture or chronology to establish dialogues around the region’s geography, raw materials, and pressing social issues.

The exhibition is curated by Melissa Wolfe, curator of American art, and Amy Torbert, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Assistant Curator of American Art.

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Exhibition Catalogue

A fully illustrated, color catalogue authored by Melissa Wolfe, curator of American art, and Amy Torbert, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Assistant Curator of American Art at the Saint Louis Art Museum, is available for purchase at the Museum store, online, or by calling 314-655-5249.

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Audio Guide

Enjoy the Museum’s new, enhanced virtual audio guide for Art Along the Rivers: A Bicentennial Celebration. This audio guide features 15 commentaries narrated by the exhibition’s curators and voices from the confluence region community. Bring your headphones and listen during your in-gallery visit or experience the guide from home.

 

Accessibility

The Saint Louis Art Museum is committed to being accessible and welcoming to all visitors. Learn More.

Large Print Labels

Large print labels for Art Along the Rivers: A Bicentennial Celebration are available online and upon request at the Special Exhibition desk in Taylor Hall.

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Audio Guide Transcript

A transcript of the audio guide for the exhibition is available online and upon request at the Special Exhibition desk in Taylor Hall.

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Educator Resource

The Art Along the Rivers Educator Resource offers rich learning connections for students and teachers to use in the classroom in conjunction with the exhibition. Broken into five thematic units, the resource explores stories and works of art from the exhibition and the connections they have to regional and national history.

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Speakers Bureau: Art Along the Rivers

This live virtual program includes a brief overview of the exhibition and features several of the more than 150 works of art on view. The program is available to groups and organizations of 10 or more.

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On-Demand Virtual Programs

This recorded program was originally presented via Zoom on October 7, 2021.

Melissa Wolfe, curator of American art, and artist Norman Akers (citizen Osage Nation) introduced the exhibition "Art Along the Rivers: A Bicentennial Celebration." Akers explored issues of identity and culture, including Osage myths, place, and the dynamics of personal and cultural transformation as a Native American artist. He discussed his featured work and the connections between his practice and the overarching themes of the exhibition.

This recorded program was originally presented via Zoom on October 14, 2021.

Melissa Wolfe, curator of American art, explored works of art included in the first section of "Art Along the Rivers: A Bicentennial Celebration." This talk introduced how the confluence of the three most powerful rivers in North America—the Mississippi, the Missouri, and the Ohio—and the major trade and migration routes have profoundly shaped the objects produced within the region. Geographic confluence also created notable cultural confluences, which resulted in objects that drew their form from the diverse traditions present in the area. As both an outpost and a gathering point, the region provided fertile ground for the growth of a distinctive artistic identity.

This recorded program was originally presented via Zoom on October 21, 2021.

Amy Torbert, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Assistant Curator of American Art, explores works of art included in the second section of "Art Along the Rivers: A Bicentennial Celebration." This talk presents the surprising variety of works of art created, collected, and exhibited in the St. Louis area during the 19th and early 20th centuries. It traces the development of the city’s private art collections and public exhibitions over a century, culminating in the 1909 formation of the City Art Museum (now known as the Saint Louis Art Museum). It also focuses on the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair to consider the contexts and methods of display encountered by its visitors.