The closest to Normal (Illinois) that I've ever been.

Monday, September 1, 2008

City Museum


This weekend we went to the City Museum in St. Louis. It was even better than all the hype!! The City Museum is not strictly a children's museum--there were many tweens and teens as well as tour groups and unaccompanied adults. And there are no glass cases or interpretive signs. The City Museum is like a hybrid between an art museum and a jungle gym. There was all sorts of unnecessary beauty that you are supposed to interact with as participatory art.
At the entrance of the museum is an amazing outdoor climbing area. It is four stories high, and incredibly convoluted--there is really no way to know what leads to what unless you clamber around and try everything out. There are tunnels, bridges, stairs, ramps and slides made out of different kinds of metals and wood as well as a jumbo-sized ball pit, a castle and two recycled airplanes.

I nearly had a heart attack when I saw some of the tunnels through the air. They are about 3 feet in diameter, at least 50 feet long, 3-4 stories above the ground and made of an airy spiderweb of metal wire. When you crawl into them, you get a virtually unobstructed view of the ground many stories below and they undulate slightly, too.


The first thing that happened is that Joseph got away from us. He was leading us, and whenever he got to a fork in the tunnel, he enthusiastically plowed on ahead without telling us where he was going. Just as we started panicking and looking for help from the staff, I hear a wee little voice from above (way above) squeaking "Hey Mommy, look where I am!" and I see Joseph up at the highest peak of the structure. Because the structure was so convoluted, I had no choice but to follow him before he got away again. (Seriously, that child is part monkey--I have no idea where he gets his agility from.) So off I went, scrambling dizzying heights through the swaying chickenwire tunnels and squeezing around hairpin turns until I caught up with him. So that is how minutes after swearing that I would NOT go up there, I ended up there.
The view from only halfway up.

Sam crosses the water.

Joseph goes slowly down an enormous slide.

Sam and I wait our turn to go down the four-story spiral slide.

There was a huge system of man-made underground caves for exploring. It was very dark, so no pictures. The kids loved it! Each of us took turns being the navigator and leading (while making sure that the others could follow) which prevented anyone from getting lost.
We took a break in the "Hall of Shameless Hucksterism," which was the beatnik-themed incredibly reasonably priced snack bar (a real bar--it sold beer!) We has popcorn and cookies and enjoyed the kitsch. There was a section devoted to the corn dog, including religious iconography, historical corn dog fun and the world's oldest corn dog, preserved under glass.

The boys enjoyed the World's Largest Underwear.

Fear the clown!

Secret hidden robot.

The first floor was devoted to an amazing undersea structure, which had giant sea creatures, and concrete and wooden tunnels to navigate.



The mosaics were exceptional! Every nook and cranny had some kind of handmade artistic detail.



There was also a small museum within the museum devoted to architectural design. It was basically a warehouse of amazing little details preserved from old buildings, including a gallery of gargoyles and doorknobs.


Sam and Joseph make their best gargoyle faces.


Also, I must add that the city of St. Louis is really fantastic! Although Danny and I have driven through several times on road trips, we have never really visited. The architecture is amazing--like the few parts of Chicago that weren't burned in the fire. We will be back, I'm sure.
The arch!

The city center--complete with disaffected goth teens.

Also, after all of that clambering around, my knees and elbows look like hamburger and I have random bruises everywhere. I took this picture on the way home from the museum. You should see what my knees look like now! And I have to wear a skirt and lecture like this!

1 comment:

Kim! said...

awesome! your bruises and bumps are proof of a good time.