Adults and teens find their “inner child” at City Museum in St. Louis, Missouri

Inside City Museum in St. Louis, Missouri, guests are greeted with a beautiful and colorful grand staircase. Visitors admire the unique pieces of art surrounding them head to toe. (Laney Toffler)

Immediately as you step into City Museum in St. Louis, Missouri, you enter a world of wonderful whimsy. With intricate slides and tunnel systems, this unique museum brings up an interesting question: who is it meant for?

Formerly the factory warehouse for the International Shoe Company, City Museum was opened in 1997. St. Louis was plagued with vacancies and City Museum helped rejuvenate the city. The structure of the building as well as everything in the museum is completely reused. It remains to be a testament for creativity and sustainability in art. The eccentric nature is what drew General Manager Eric Gilbert to this job. 

“There’s something about City Museum that’s really engaging; it’s very romantic, it’s very experiential,” Gilbert said. 

Museum goers and staff agree that this museum is bustling with interactive adventures. There is so much to explore that the staff feels it takes four to six hours to get the full experience.

“There’s so much to do here,” Liz Ford, a young adult from Illinois, said. “We’ve seen people from every age here.”

City Museum is often regarded as a great children’s museum, however, this title might not be fitting. 

“If I had kids I definitely wouldn’t bring them because it would be easy for them to get lost, but it is perfect for teenagers and adults,” Ford said. 

Brittney Mansur, a mother of two, agreed with the sentiment that the museum may not be the safest for all ages. 

“No, I’m not concerned [about my kids]; the ages of my kids seven and eight, so I feel like it’s perfect for them,” Mansur said. “I don’t think I would’ve brought younger kids here [for safety reasons].”

These concerns are not unwarranted. In 2010, the Wall Street Journal published an article titled, This Museum Exposes Kids to Thrills, Chills and Trial Lawyers, which details lawsuits that have challenged the adventurous nature of the museum. However, the museum has taken strides to make sure everyone is safe. 

City Museum features a rooftop play area complete with slides and a Ferris wheel. The exploration and adventure at this museum transcends to the tenth floor. (Laney Toffler)

“Safety is our utmost priority,” Gilbert said. “When we are creating and developing [exhibits], we are always looking at ways to provide a risk but not a dangerous risk. We work hard to ensure that everyone goes home safely.”

Despite some safety hazards, guests and staff agree that City Museum is still a great place for families as well as adults and teens. The museum offers something for everyone, including a designated floor for toddlers as well as bars for adults. The main objective of City Museum is ultimately quite simple: it’s to have fun. 

“We have a lot of traditional art with sculptures and statues throughout, but our focus is play,” Gilbert said. “Our focus is play, regardless of age.”