The Pulitzer Arts Foundation presents art in dynamic interplay with architecture, offering unexpected experiences and inspiring new perspectives. Valuing contemplation, close looking, and civic engagement, the Pulitzer brings art and people together.
Since its opening in October 2001, the Pulitzer Arts Foundation has presented exhibitions and public programs in dynamic interplay with its Tadao Ando building, offering unexpected experiences and inspiring new perspectives.
The idea for the Pulitzer began in the early 1990s, when Emily Rauh Pulitzer and Joseph Pulitzer Jr. sought to establish a permanent space in which to display their art collection. Purchasing property in St. Louis’ Grand Center Arts District, the Pulitzers hoped to contribute to the creative revitalization of this once-thriving entertainment district. In 1991, they commissioned Tadao Ando to design the space, which would become his first free-standing public building in the United States. Over the course of some ten years, the premise for the space evolved into a non-collecting art museum that would organize and present special exhibitions of historic and contemporary art from around the world.
To complement the precise lines and contemplative spaces of Ando’s design, Emily Pulitzer invited Richard Serra and Ellsworth Kelly to create artworks for the building. Kelly’s site-specific vertical wall sculpture Blue Black, was created for a large wall beneath a narrow skylight in the Main Gallery. Serra’s Joe—named in homage to the late Joseph Pulitzer Jr., and part of the artist’s acclaimed series of torqued spirals made of weathering steel—was installed in the courtyard. In each instance, Ando and the artists collaborated in ways that enhanced the experience of both the art and the architecture.
When the Pulitzer opened in 2001, Ando’s building became a superb place to present art as well as a defining feature of the museum. Spacious galleries, illuminated by abundant and ever-changing natural light, combine with a central water court to create multilayered experiences of the art within. In 2015, the Pulitzer transformed its lower level into public spaces and new galleries, expanding the museum’s exhibition space by nearly fifty percent.
From its beginning, the Pulitzer has presented a wide range of exhibitions featuring art from around the world—from Old Masters to important modern and contemporary artists—and exploring a diverse array of themes and ideas. In addition, these exhibitions are complemented by programs that bring together leading figures from fields ranging from art, architecture, design, urban planning, and the humanities to social work and science.
More than twenty years after it was first imagined, the Pulitzer remains a place where ideas are freely explored, new art is exhibited, and historic work reexamined. Today, the museum continues to offer direct encounters with art, bringing art and people together.