Starting Monday, Fine Arts Drive in front of the St. Louis Art Museum will be closed for improvements and installation of a sculpture, the museum said Friday.
The Forest Park museum and its parking lots will remain open; the garage will be accessible by approaching from Government Drive.
The street is expected to reopen in early December.
Richard Serra's “To Encircle Base Plate Hexagram, Right Angles Inverted” — which looks like a circle with a 26-foot diameter — will be embedded in the asphalt, between the museum's main entrance and the "Apotheosis of St. Louis" sculpture, the museum said in its announcement.
The sculpture will be flush with the pavement and won't obstruct motorists or pedestrians. Serra meant for the piece to be driven and walked over, rather than simply observed, the museum said.
Originally installed at an intersection in the Bronx from 1970 to 1972, the artwork was acquired by local collectors Jan and Ronald Greenberg, who had it at their home from 1973 through 1978. The Greenbergs then lent it to Laumeier Sculpture Park in St. Louis County until giving it to the St. Louis Art Museum in 1984.
The art museum had it installed in the parking lot at the south entrance of the museum. It was removed and placed in storage in 2008 when construction began on the East Building.
Brent Benjamin, the museum's director, told the Post-Dispatch last year that Serra is “the most important living sculptor in America” and noted that "To Encircle Base Plate Hexagram" is “his first major outdoor sculpture.”
The museum consulted Serra, and “this is the site he would prefer,” Benjamin said.
Another sculpture by Serra — eight giant steel slabs titled "Twain" — fills a city block on the Gateway Mall downtown.
The Fine Arts Drive project will include replacing the roadbed and improving storm-water drainage, the museum said. The work was approved by the Forest Park Advisory Board, the St. Louis Preservation Board and the St. Louis Board of Aldermen. Mayor Lyda Krewson approved the project Sept. 18.
A gift from Emily Rauh Pulitzer will pay for the work.