The City Museum in St. Louis is one of my favorite places.
Before Austin and I were married, we went there with a group of college friends and, just recently, we were able to go back. The idiosyncratic City Museum is a place that claims to be “always building” and “saving the city, by any means necessary.” The museum was envisioned and created by artist Bob Cassilly and is housed in the 600,000 square-foot former International Shoe Company where it has been since it opened in 1997.
The museum is an eclectic mixture of children’s playground, funhouse, surrealistic pavilion, and architectural marvel made out of unique, found objects. Cassilly and his longtime crew of 20 artisans have constructed the museum from the very stuff of the city; and, as a result, it has urban roots deeper than any other institutions’. Reaching no farther than municipal borders for its reclaimed building materials, City Museum boasts features such as old chimneys, salvaged bridges, construction cranes, miles of tile, and even two abandoned planes.
I’ve had so many adventures here. There is something about a place that has no maps and recommends that “a flashlight may be helpful” that just seems to spark something exciting. From climbing around outdoors, to exploring the caves, to the amazingness that is the 10-story slide, (Yes, you read that right. A 10-story side. It’s pretty much the most marvelous thing in the world) it’s the place to go if you want to feel like a kid again. Last time, I found this spot in the caves that was right below the 1924 Pipe Organ. The acoustics were phenomenal and I just hope that I can find the same spot again when I go back next time.
Note: I always leave with fantastically bruised knees.
“City Museum makes you want to know. The point is not to learn every fact, but to say, ‘wow, that’s wonderful.’ and if it’s wonderful, it’s worth preserving.”
Bob Cassilly | Artist & Founder