Reflecting its Jesuit heritage, values and traditions, aesthetic enrichment is an important component of a Saint Louis University education. The arts introduce us to myriad cultures and diverse interpretations of human life, the beauty of nature and the presence of God in all things. Through the arts, we have the opportunity to develop intuition, appreciation, imagination and insight.
The Saint Louis University curricula are designed to assure that formal study in the fine and performing arts complements study in the humanities and the natural physical sciences. The education of our students is further enriched by the University's art collection and its four other museums and galleries, and by the University's location in Grand Center, the city's arts and entertainment district.
The Saint Louis University Museum of Art (SLUMA) enriches the aesthetic component of a SLU education through the display of diverse cultural worlds and the sponsorship of educational programs related to the arts.
The museum is a regional venue for scholarly presentation of works of historical art and artifacts and also is a venue for exhibitions of work by students, faculty, staff, alumni, benefactors and friends of the University. It brings together the University's permanent art collections with traveling exhibitions in an inviting setting which is available and accessible to the community, the region and the world.
The Vision for Saint Louis University Museum of Art
Distinguished by its Jesuit-based tradition and successive achievements in the aesthetic transformation of its urban campus, Saint Louis University has opened a facility that will develop into one of the nation's top university museums. The central location in Midtown St. Louis, as well as in the heartland of America gives the Saint Louis University Museum enormous potential in its ability to both become a premiere gallery, as well as an educational center for historical research in art history and cultural expression. The Museum will present the University and public communities with items relevant to the Jesuit educational philosophy and ideals, the history of the surrounding area, and the works of local, national, and internationally acclaimed artists.
Art in the Jesuit Tradition
The Jesuit tradition lends itself to the contemplation of objects of culture in relation to its educational institutions. From its very conception in the 16th century, the philosophy and focus of the Society of Jesus have been centered upon education of the whole person. University of San Francisco arts educator and artist Thomas Lucas, S.J., comments on the fundamental role that art has played in the foundations of Jesuit formation and development:
Ignatius understood and trusted the power of the human imagination. He shaped his "Spiritual Exercises" around its careful and attentive use as means of finding God in all things. Moreover, he saw the products of the imagination, as vehicles that transport us to an understanding and experience of higher realities in ways that linear discourse cannot carry us. He loved music, built and restored beautiful churches, and allowed and even encouraged the performance of plays in his schools. Jesuit schools and institutions became flourishing artistic centers in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in Europe and also in Jesuit missions around the world.
Liberal education in the Jesuit tradition flourishes with the visual stimulation triggered by the images of the society surrounding the individual. Art reflects society, and hence, it enriches cognitive thinking and development of social expression. The long-standing history of Jesuit participation and leadership in the arts -- both their spiritual pursuits and also their work in educating the students and local community -- will be strongly supported by the addition of Saint Louis University Museum. The Museum represents a critical step in realizing the University's mission, advancing St. Ignatius' ideals, as well as increasing the overall exposure of society to the arts.