This past weekend I had the opportunity to visit a good friend in St. Louis. It was our annual “girls’ weekend” and our hostess suggested we visit the City Museum.
She also suggested we wear pants and sneakers, dress comfortably, and leave our purses in the car.
Now, I’ve been to my fair share of museums and I have to say – that was a first.
But what exactly is the City Museum? I had recently heard that the “museum’s” founder, Bob Cassilly, had passed away, but other than that, I really didn’t know much of anything about it. And to be honest, now that I’ve been, I’m not sure how to describe it! (But I am certain that you all should go. Now. Make travel plans to STL, stat.)
As we approached the “museum” I saw a giant jungle gym coming out of an old shoe factory. For real. The roof is covered with climbing areas, a Ferris wheel, and a school bus that looks like it’s about to come crashing to the ground. The front of the museum is not much different; two airplanes, a fire truck, a giant caged area filled with balls, and climbing areas everywhere.
But wait, I though this was a museum?! Or is it a museum in name only? What IS a museum, anyway?
The bulk of the museum is filled with the tunnels, slides, cages, ladders and other apparatus by which folks of all ages can climb and explore. You don’t know where you’re going most of the time, but that’s okay.
And it’s a complete blast.
I did eventually find a more traditional, natural history “museum” section, and by more traditional, I mean seriously “old-school” natural history displays: cases and cases of bugs* pinned and identified, animals that have been stuffed and preserved in jars, and archaeological artifacts dug up near and far. But I would be surprised if anyone ever visited the Museum specifically to look at that.
So …do I think the giant-jungle-gym-with-a-little-museum should, technically be called a museum? Hmm. An art museum, perhaps, if you consider the interactive space to be a giant work of art.
Have you been? What do you think?! Let’s get this conversation started!
* Okay, so my husband and I are contemplating a trip to Ecuador, and many of the bugs on display were found in Ecuador in 1996. And they were BIG. Like, an 8″+ stick bug and gigantic beetles. Yikes!