The Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis presents, supports, and celebrates the art of our time. It is the premier museum in St. Louis dedicated to contemporary art. Focused on a dynamic array of changing exhibitions, CAM provides a thought-provoking program that reflects and contributes to the global cultural landscape. Through the diverse perspectives offered in its exhibitions, public programs, and educational initiatives, CAM actively engages a range of audiences to challenge their perceptions. It is a site for discovery, a gathering place in which to experience and enjoy contemporary visual culture.
Formerly the Forum for Contemporary Art, the Museum was founded on the Mississippi riverfront in 1980 by a group of civic, cultural, and educational leaders to introduce visual arts programming and cultural activities into downtown. On September 19, 2003, the Contemporary Art Museum opened its new building in the Grand Center Arts and Entertainment District in midtown St. Louis. Since then, CAM has mounted more than 120 exhibitions and brought the work of over 260 artists to the city.
As a non-collecting institution, CAM presents six Main Gallery exhibitions each year in the fall, spring, and summer, featuring national and international artists from various cultural backgrounds who work across different media and presentational formats. In tandem with the Main Gallery exhibitions, the Front Room at CAM operates at its own rhythm, staging exhibitions that last from a few weeks to a month. Designed for more nimble programming, the Front Room pushes the boundaries of what a museum exhibition can be as it features the work of emerging artists and experimental curatorial strategies.
CAM plays a leading role among contemporary art museums in the United States in setting the tone for understanding of the art of our time. To this end it has, over the past decade, provided numerous artists—including Richard Aldrich, Laylah Ali, Lutz Bacher, Rosa Barba, Leslie Hewitt, Elad Lassry, Christodoulos Panayiotou, Gedi Sibony, and Carey Young—with their first major American museum exhibition. CAM has also presented significant and unique presentations of more established artists such as Richard Artschwager, Jim Hodges, Sean Landers, and Cindy Sherman, reinterpreting their work to develop significant new scholarship and prompt renewed consideration of their profound influence on contemporary art and culture. The Museum is therefore dedicated to writing art history rather than simply following it, an approach evidenced by the increasing presence of artists, first presented at the CAM, in the collections of major international museums.
In conjunction with its exhibitions, CAM delivers related programs to audiences of all ages that include artist and curator lectures, art-inspired food tastings by acclaimed St. Louis chefs, outdoor film screenings, unique workshops, and tours designed for families with young children. CAM’s innovative programs provide ongoing opportunities to demystify contemporary art as it continues to increase awareness and interest, and engage audiences of all ages.
Finally, CAM believes strongly in the power of art to change lives. Year after year, the Museum offers free arts education programs that provide hundreds of students with access to critically acclaimed artists, art educators, and the tools and technology necessary to reach their creative potential. The Museum’s flagship program—New Art in the Neighborhood—presents students with extraordinary opportunities to learn from regional, national, and international artists exhibiting their work at CAM through hands-on, artist-led workshops. Artists who have participated in the program include: Kara Walker, Radcliffe Bailey, Ruby Osorio, Christina Shmigel, Enrique Chagoya, Barry McGee, Janaina Tschape, Larry Krone, Michael Paul Britto, Jim Hodges, Katie Holten, John Armleder, Olivier Mosset, Gedi Sibony, David Hullfish Bailey, Sean Landers, Elad Lassry, Richard Aldrich, David Noonan, Christodoulos Panayiotou, Leslie Hewitt, Lauren Adams, and Jeremy Deller.