As I was sliding head first down an old spiral grain shute, at considerable speed, screaming at the top of my lungs, a thought passed through my mind: surely this the most fun anyone can have in a museum! The City Museum in St. Louis has none of the hushed reverant atmosphere of a normal museum. What it does have is tons of children, teenagers, and adults alike, running around with complete abandonment, and making as much noise as possible, in what is essentially a three storey playground created mostly from reused and recyled materials. The experience for me was one of constant wonderment and surprise. That anything like this could be created, let alone be a legal public attraction in the US is amazing to me. I felt like Alice in Wonderland exploring a world Gaudí could only have dreamed of, and where each rabbit hole leads to another extraordinarily magical place.
One of the best things about the museum apart from all the climbing, crawling, squeezing, slipping and sliding, was the amazing range of materials used to construct all the different zones, most of which have been reused or recycled in one way or another. Often you don't notice what it is you are crawling over, or under, until your nose is a couple of centimeters away from it. Oh, they are bolts welded together; oh, those are old desks piled on top of each other; oh, look these are metal serving tins built into a wall, and these are....tree branches?
The City Museum is the brainchild of artist/sculptor Bob Cassilly. It opened in 1997 in the 600,000 square-foot former International Shoe Company in St. Louis. "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, the CITY MUSEUM boasts features such as old chimneys, salvaged bridges, construction cranes, miles of tile, and even two abandoned planes! 'The CITY MUSEUM makes you want to know,' says Cassilly. 'The point is not to learn every fact, but to say, 'Wow, that's wonderful.' And if it's wonderful, it's worth preserving.'"
This is wonderful! Go and enjoy yourselves! :: The City Museum