Best Museum

Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis

The opening earlier this year of Dear Nemesis, Nicole Eisenman 1993-2013 was in many ways typical of the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis under executive director Lisa Melandri. Not only was the Eisenman show a vast enterprise comprising more than 120 works, but it was also just one of seven separate exhibits the museum was unveiling. That's right, in an age where galleries often take a minimalist approach, exhibiting only a few artworks for any given show, CAM is going maximalist, making for rowdy shows that have the museum bursting with art — on its outer walls, in its foyer, even its elevators and bathrooms. Melandri plays hard, with big, aggressive programming and equally energetic fundraising. So far, the strategy seems to be paying off, in both well-attended openings and in lucrative events such as this spring's one-day auction through Sotheby's, which grossed CAM nearly $2.2 million. Considering the non-collecting museum's annual budget is around $2.5 million, the numbers, like the art, speak for themselves.

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