The City Museum:GO! NOW!

by Weeks on 17/09/2006

in Green Crafting


It shouldn’t be called City Museum. It should be called Phantasmagoria Central or something. For those of you who have never heard of St. Louis, Missouri, it is the gateway to the American West and located on the Mississippi River. It is home to the City Museum, way up there on my list of amazing places I’ve been in the world. If you are a creative person, a maker of any sorts, prepare to be amazed, astonished and thoroughly inspired. And any child over the age of 2, and likely all the grown-ups you know too, will beg to go back.


The City Museum is located in the site of a former shoe factory and occupies an entire city block. It is made of recycled industrial parts and architectural salvage. It is part adventure playground, part Alice in Wonderland and all organic, intuitive, outsider art on steroids.




You rarely know where the tunnels you are crawling through or the stairs you are climbing will lead you, you only know that you are entering another world designed by a sculptor with an amazing imagination. You’ll be thinking about how cool it was long after you’ve returned home and you’ll spot a key someone has dropped in the street and you’ll think about all of the different things you could do with that key–things that you might not have thought about had you not gone to the City Museum.



The spindles on the staircase–rollers from the conveyors of the shoe factory, the mosaic on the column–one night’s worth of oyster shells from a local seafood restaurant, the wall next to the elevator–old engraving plates from a printer, the spiral climbing structure over there–used to be a refrigerant tube used in a beer factory.


Yes that is our friends’ 3-year old climbing through a suspended tunnel made out of salvaged rebar 5 stories above the ground. It is connected to an abandoned FBI plane at one end and a series of climbing structures and old buses and a fire engine on the other. Did I mention that the place stays open until 1 am? We stayed for 5 hours and left only because our young children needed to go to bed. We didn’t even make it to the glass-tube slide that goes through the shark pool, see the acrobats or enter the Museum of Mirth, Mystery and Mayhem.

Going to the City Museum will make you rethink your definition of materials because it shows just how great design can make anything interesting. You will feel like a kid again, head swirling in amazement and longing to go make something.

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

1 ART YoWZa September 17, 2006 at 1:38 am

awesome! INSPIRING photos and description! thank you!


2 vegasandvenice September 17, 2006 at 2:12 am

Wow! This is absolutely incredible!!! Thank you for sharing.


3 HPNY knits September 17, 2006 at 2:24 am

a good reason to visit st louis


4 Sidney September 17, 2006 at 3:08 am

ok, now I want to go there.. lol.. FINALLY I have a reason to travel to Missouri! :-D Thanks for sharing, I probably never would have known! This is exactly the kind of museum I would love to build in my hometown if I could so you definitely hit the spot with me!!!!!


5 Celeste September 17, 2006 at 3:21 am

I’ve never really been bothered about visiting the US, but I really really want to go there!


6 Susan at artstream September 17, 2006 at 4:49 am

very wonderful looking museum!


7 admin September 17, 2006 at 7:18 am

wow! that place looks amazing – will put it on my future visit to the USA itinerary


8 Karyl September 17, 2006 at 7:41 am

I’m glad to see that you had a wonderful time in one of our city’s most fun places. St. Louis is the quintessential “understated” city — there are so many things to do and see here! The Art Museum, Zoo and Botanical Gardens are “world class” and fantastic and the professional sports teams also draw large crowds. Good food and friendly people — it sounds like a commercial, huh?


9 Cyndi September 17, 2006 at 8:32 am

You forgot to mention the circus. Kids juggling knives is always inspiring to me! Glad you had fun.


10 Alicia A. September 17, 2006 at 10:56 am

The City Museum is hands down one of the absolute coolest places I have ever been. It is AMAZING. So much fun. We loved it as much, probably more, than the kids did.



11 caroline September 17, 2006 at 7:10 pm

Oh wow – what an amazing museum. The photos made me think of the wierd intricate worlds in Steven Millhauser’s books.


12 madmommy September 17, 2006 at 8:52 pm

this place reminds me so much of House on the Rock in Spring Green, WI…except there you’re not allowed to climb on everything…going to have to make the drive from KS to visit this one!


13 sgmoid September 17, 2006 at 9:39 pm

I think the City Museum is the happiest place on earth. Disney land really should have no claim to the title.

The shark slide is my favorite thing, but when I was there I just relaxed in it with my friend and quitely watched the aquqatic life.


14 whitty September 18, 2006 at 7:59 pm

My uncle-in-law (is that a thing?) was a welder at the City Museum and worked there for years – we would get in free all the time. He built a good portion of Monstro City and we got to tour the new caves while they were under construction – too cool! He moved back to Texas, but I still love the City Museum. Seriously one of my most favorite places in the world!


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