Can you remember being a kid, and experiencing the thrilling wonder of exploring the woods behind your house and discovering a secret creek?...Or being allowed to explore your grandmother's chest of drawers deep inside her darkened closet, and your sheer delight of finding boxes of sparkly jewelry or stacks of old-fashioned hats nestled into colorful round boxes?
That is the BEST way I can think to describe St. Louis' City Museum. Or, rather, the way I FELT the entire 6 hours we were there recently.
My husband Dave and I giggled when, halfway through our visit, I asked him, "How many times have I said, 'This is so AMAZING' today?" But, I just couldn't help myself. The City Museum is just that: AMAZING.
On our drive to the City Museum that morning, right after the new year, we were worried about the $12/person entry fee, and really hoped we were making the best choice for our last day in St. Louis during our quick and last-minute getaway. After it was all said and done, Dave and I both agreed--that was $48 WELL-SPENT! It was by-far our favorite St. Louis attraction!
From the moment we walked in, and were told by the sweet girl at the Admission window, "There aren't any maps of our facility--we invite you to explore and discover today!" I KNEW this was going to be a wonder-filled visit.
Every inch of the museum was created by a team of 20 artists, using building materials reclaimed from its city, to create a magical playground, funhouse, surrealistic pavilion, and architectural marvel--all made out of unique, and found objects.
To experience the fullness of the wonder, Dave and I had to join in, and explore right alongside our daughters. We climbed treehouses, explored hidden caves and dark tunnels, and even slid down the 10-story slide! I was so happy I'd changed into my tennis shoes in the parking lot. I couldn't have explored as easily without sensible shoes.
I felt comfortable letting our daughters explore together when the tunnels got a little too small for my taste. I would not have felt comfortable letting my 8-year-old explore alone. So, if you plan to go--decide ahead of time what scenario would make you most comfortable. The City Museum is well-staffed, but we didn't always notice the staff, and there ARE a lot of dark tunnels and nooks and crannies...
I really liked the fact that a staff member was at the darkened cave area and outside play area entrances, very carefully admitting children WITH a parent. They also made sure children were with the same parent upon exit of these areas, too.
Oh look! The Architecture Museum was just around the corner! Showcasing original architectural pieces from buildings of Louis Sullivan, considered the father of modern architecture, and his chief draftsman George Grant Elmslie, later an important architect in his own right.
How about a huge indoor "skateless park" to run off some energy after lunch? Yes, thank you! I must admit...that running these bowls made a certain mama feel...a little older than she is...in her mind!
And, of course, who could ever forget the OUTSIDE of City Museum? The antique airplanes and connecting metal tunnels and catwalks are the first things you see when walking up. Our girls COULDN'T WAIT to explore the dizzyingly high tunnels! As you can tell, I watched from ground-level. To take pictures, of course!
I could post 100 more pictures (literally) from our day of exploring St. Louis' City Museum, and I wouldn't even begin to capture its MAGIC and WONDER. I'm sure it's why they don't issue maps of their sprawling building. The whole experience is about hands-on exploration, and mysterious discoveries, and wonder-filled moments around every corner.
I haven't felt more like a child in a very long time.
The whole experience was amazing and thrilling and happy and smiley...and maybe the very best day our family has ever spent together.
Have you been? What was your favorite part?