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The Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis breaks attendance records for 2017-18
Painted television in the apartment, c. 1979–1980. Photograph by Alexis Adler.

ST. LOUIS, MO.- The Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis today announced record-breaking attendance numbers for the 2017–18 exhibition year. On the eve of its fall exhibitions opening, CAM reported 41,487 visitors last year, an 85 percent increase in attendance since 2012, the year Lisa Melandri came on as executive director. CAM also broke attendance records for a single season during the recent 2018 summer exhibitions season with a total of 16,011 visitors.

“We’re very proud that we are connecting with so many people,” says Melandri. “And not only more people but people from all walks of life, many of whom have never been to a contemporary art museum before. A lot of this has to do with the exhibitions we choose, as well as how much we make it a priority that CAM is a welcoming space, free and open to all.” Exhibition highlights for 2017–18 included Mickalene Thomas’s multimedia tribute to African American women she honors as “mentors, muses, and celebrities”; Salvatore Scarpitta: Racing Cars, the first museum exhibition to focus on the late American artist’s racing-themed artwork; the Great Rivers Biennial, which featured talented local artists Addoley Dzegede, Sarah Paulsen, and Jacob Stanley; and the first solo museum exhibition of Amy Sherald, the acclaimed official portraitist of former First Lady Michelle Obama.

CAM expects another season of increased attendance with the highly anticipated Basquiat Before Basquiat: East 12th Street: 1979–1980, which includes the entire cache of work the teenage Jean-Michel Basquiat created in his small apartment on Manhattan’s Lower East Side just prior to achieving international recognition. “It’s amazing the response we’ve had since the moment we announced this show,” says Melandri, who organized the exhibition for CAM. “Social media just blew up, so we think there are a lot of people excited at the rare opportunity to see work by Basquiat in St. Louis.”

CAM’s fall exhibitions season opened Friday, September 7.

Fall 2018 Exhibitions, on view September 7–December 30, 2018
• Basquiat Before Basquiat: East 12th Street, 1979–1980
• Sanford Biggers
• SUPERFLEX: European Union Mayotte
• William Downs: Sometimes it hurts
• Jennifer West: Emoji Piss Film
• Lizzy Martinez: Seeing Red presented by Teen Museum Studies
• ArtReach: Northwest Academy of Law

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