Thursday, June 13, 2013

Behold! The World Famous City Museum!

View from the roof - Steve Dixon

St Louis is very, very proud of their City Museum. People fall all over themselves to recommend it to visitors, even when 5 people already recommended it before them, even when the visitor already said that it was on their itinerary. DON'T YOU UNDERSTAND? YOU MUST GO.

So, the City Museum is about the farthest thing away from a "little known" part of St Louis, but the rabid fandom made it the obvious choice for our first meet up. Plus, if I want you to tell more people about this site, I have to give you some great pictures of your favorite St Louis attraction to show your friends, right?

The City Museum opened in 1997 in the former International Shoe Factory, and began as the imaginarium of Bob Cassilly. Sadly, Bob passed away in 2011 while working on a new project (Cementland), but his spirit lives on at the ever-changing museum. This is one of the top reasons it's so highly recommended.  There is always something new every time you visit, even if you live in St Louis and visit frequently. This was my first visit in about a year, and I was blown away by how much they managed to add to areas that seemed complete. It's constantly transforming.

The City Museum is made up of plaster, metal, and found objects. If you bring your kids here, you have to accept that they are going to climb, they're going to end up with bruises and scrapes, and you're not always going to be able to follow them. It's definitely an old school kind of playground. I remember knocking my head on a beam in a low tunnel and being pleasantly surprised that it was padded, because that is definitely not typical of this place.

Did I mention they sell alcohol? Liquid courage! Whether you need it for climbing up to the airplane, or letting your kids run untethered. There's a bar in the log cabin outside and a snack bar on the roof.

I had not yet had a beer when Francis made this climb. It was very difficult to watch. He thought it was the only way to get to the top of the dome and I surprised him when I met him on the other side. Remember how I said you might not always be able to follow your kids (or your husband)? Maybe you don't want to climb or you can't fit in that tunnel under the floor, but there is never only one way to get somewhere in the City Museum. You can always "follow" by sight and go around/under/over.

The Puking Pig is one of the coolest things in the museum, in my opinion. It slowly fills up with water, and the weight eventually causes it to tip over and dump the contents into the "stream" below. Physics!

There's no way to cover the whole inside of the museum in one blog post, so the rest will just be a collection of random stuff. You can also see a previous post I did on Beatnik Bob's and the former Corn Dogs Through the Ages exhibit here, though like everything else in the museum, it has changed a lot in 5 years. The Corn Dog thing was cool and all, but the current exhibit of photos from Gaslight Square with comments from Jack Parker of O'Connell's Pub & Antiques is really neat and worth a visit.

The World's Largest Underpants remain.

The Architecture Hall is probably the most museum-y part of the City Museum, where you can find all kinds of gargoyles, cornices, elevators, toilets, and doorknobs that have been saved from the wrecking ball. I can't remember where this elevator came from, but eventually I intend to do a separate post about this section because it is my favorite part.

Wait, second favorite part. The turtles are my favorite part. I love turtles! This is part of a huge tank outside of the Enchanted Caves, and there is ALSO a big aquarium up on the second floor that has a separate admission. That's another item for the summer list.

There is still so much I haven't covered! There's a huge outdoor area called MonstroCity, the aforementioned Enchanted Caves, Wurlitzer Organ, and 10 Story Slide, Circus Harmony, the Shoelace Factory, the World's Largest Pencil in the Skateless Park, Toddler Town, the Tiny Train, and SO MUCH MORE. Can you even believe that some people around here say it's too expensive at $12 (+$5 for roof access)? All our free museums have spoiled us! It's clearly an entire day's worth of entertainment, but if you only have an evening, admission is reduced by $2 after 5pm. The City Museum is located at 701 N 15th St.


  1. It was extremely windy up on the roof that night. It was very cool to just face the wind and let it hit you.

  2. what a great post! thanks!