© St. Louis Art Museum
The Saint Louis Art Museum houses a number of different collections within its walls, covering the breadth of art history and from all over the world.
The museum holds a respected collection of African art and cultural artifacts. The collection began in 1936, when art museums rarely collected such works or held them in regard. The museum acquired a bronze head from the Benin kingdom, and soon expanded upon it with metalwork, ceramics, vessels, textiles, reliquary figures, headrests, masks, chairs and other items that include work form Ligbi, Fang, Kuba, Yaka, Fon, Widekum, and Chokwe peoples. The African Art collection now includes over 1,200 pieces of art, devotional paraphernalia, pots, and figures drawn from cultures in West Africa, Nigeria, Egypt, and many sub-Saharan sources.
The museum’s African American Art collections was kick started by a mid-century gift of 60 works, including paintings, drawings, and other prints and works on paper form the historic Federal Art Project. Other artists included in the African American Art collection include Kara Walker, Peter Bentzon, Henry Ossawa Tanner, and Julie Mehretu.