The City Museum in St. Louis is the first attraction I’ve been to that makes NYC feel dull.
It’s an art installation housed inside and outside a former shoe factory. The best way to describe is if MoMA and Williamsburg had a love child in an post-apocalytpic industrial city where all the lawyers have been killed off.
The City Museum, housed in 10-story brick building, shows none of the restraint or quiet typical of museums…It recycles St. Louis’ industrial past into such attractions as slides made from assembly-line rollers. Just about everything can be touched or climbed, including dozens of Mr. Cassilly’s sculptures, among them a walk-through whale on the first floor.
Despite the whiff of danger, or perhaps because of it, the City Museum is one of St. Louis’s most popular attractions. Its 700,000 annual attendance is roughly twice the population of St. Louis and dwarfs the turnout at refined destinations such as the St. Louis Art Museum.
Here’s what it looks like from the outside; yes that is a school bus hanging off of the roof and you can apparently go inside it (though it was closed for the winter):
Here are the crystalline caverns near the actual entrance of the building:
Here’s the coat-check ($1)
Your standard hipster cave art display:
Navigating the museum is like a Choose Your Own Adventure: You can take the boring walkway or crawl through the many Slinky-tunnels that snake throughout the building.
Don’t wear heels or your best leggings to the Museum:
Here’s an overhead view of some statues of the local wildlife:
What’s behind this door? A ten-story slide? Don’t mind if I do!
Here’s what the slide looks like from near the bottom. At the Bowery New Museum, everyone made a big deal when an artist installed a puny 3-story slide, even though you had to wait 2 hours to get on it. Getting to the top of the City Museum’s 10-story-slide (no elevators or escalators) weeds out the weak so there was no line. Plus, it’s ten F*CKING STORIES.
Even though there are clearly places during the journey to the slide that someone could easily topple off and die, the City Museum has several bars that serve alcohol (including PBR, of course):
For you Modern Art lovers:
Williamsburg, eat your heart out:
So this is already a pretty cool place, especially for a $12 entrance fee. But we haven’t even been outside yet. Hope you aren’t afraid of heights/claustrophobic:
We’ll be making our way up to that plane there:
Slinky tunnel time!
It’s better not to think whether or not these tunnels have been load-tested to prevent a group of heavy people bringing down the entire installation:
My friend wouldn’t follow me up here so I took a picture of this random guy:
The fastest way to get down is, of course, by slide:
The evening concluded with some time in the ball pit, beaning teenagers and living out my past dodgeball glory days. Where else in America can you pummel strangers in the face without someone pulling out a knife/gun? A teenage boy even found a cell phone under all the balls and tried to find the owner.
Honestly, the best place in America. My friend described it as a “playground for adults,” but there were plenty of children running around. And though you’d think they’d be really bratty (there was no way for adults to really supervise them), it’s amazing how polite everyone of all ages was – and they serve alcohol there! Even more amazing:, I did not smell a single whiff of marijuana, even though you’d assume that’d be a popular choice of drug there (that, or LSD).
Too bad nothing like this could ever exist in a lawsuit-happy place like NYC. But if you’re ever near St. Louis, the City Museum is itself worth the drive/flight.
Read the entertaining story from the WSJ: this place is so hardcore that it’s possible to sneak into one of the exhibit areas and lose two fingers.