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The Saint Louis Art Museum was founded in 1879, at the close of a decade that saw the establishment of art museums in great cities across the eastern half of the United States. This Museum's comprehensive collections bear witness to the inspirational and educational goals to which its founder aspired and the moral and democratic imperatives he embraced. What began as a collection of assorted plaster casts, electrotype reproductions, and other examples of "good design" in various media rapidly gave way to a great and varied collection of original works of art spanning five millennia and six continents. Today the quality and breadth of the Museum's collection secure for it a place among the very best institutions of its kind.
(Saint Louis Art Museum Handbook of the Collection)