No Maps

I have been to the Louvre, the Getty, the Uffizi, the Smithsonian. All of these and more have I visited. After today, none of them are in the running for the title of GREATEST MUSEUM ON EARTH. For today we went to the City Museum in St. Louis, Missouri.


This is just the outside. All of this you are welcome to climb on, ride, and explore…even that bus. I feel a better name for this place is Museum City. Photo via.

It used to be a shoe factory, but now all 600,000 square feet of the building has been given over to interactive sculpture. It is the brainchild of the late Bob Cassilly, who recruited a team of 20 artisans and crafted a museum made out of the city. Yes, you read that correctly – the sculptures are all made from materials reclaimed from St. Louis itself.

The only directional signage you’re likely to find. It’s at the entrance. Which way would you go first? Photo by T.

The point of this museum is not to sit back and appreciate from afar the genius of a bygone era. No docents will ever tell you, “No pictures.” There are no signs saying, “Do not touch.” You will not find an interactive map anywhere.

Even as you are gawking at the immensity of the structures, you are enticed to touch, climb, crawl, twist, slide, and swing through reclaimed pieces of St. Louis. This is what makes this museum so extraordinary. If you’re like me, you’ve always wanted to explore an abandoned city, but that pesky risk of radiation poisoning or falling through a floor has stopped you. Hesitate no more:

The old shoe factory shafts. Workers would put shoes down the shafts to get them from one floor to another. Now, they are slides for humans – one is three stories, the second five stories, and the third a whopping ten story circular slide. I haven’t laughed so much going down a slide in years. Photo via.
Climb onto the wing of an abandoned plane and then…well, you’ll find out where it leads once you get there. Photo via.
They take the ‘no maps’ thing seriously. You will get lost; so will your kids. Photo by T.
One of many wonderful slides that children of all ages can enjoy. Photo by T.
These are wonderful. I don’t even know what they once were. Take a seat and lean over…the chair will take you for a spin. Photo by T.
Grab an adult beverage if you so choose. We did not choose. Too much climbing. Must climb. Photo by T.
You may find yourself having to get creative to go from one place to another. Photo by R.
You know you’ve always wanted to climb up the inside of a dome. It’s not the easiest climb, and if you’re allergic to heights it’s not for you, but damn is it a great view. Photo via.

We spent many hours here and didn’t see half of what the museum has on offer. It’s one of those places that needs to be on your bucket list at least twice.

Some hints for your visit:

  • Wear long pants and sneakers. These will help you climb and slide! If you have pants with zippered pockets all the better, as you can place small items like your phone or camera there without risking them falling many floors to their death.
  • If you have a pair of volleyball knee pads, wear ’em.
  • You won’t be able to (and you won’t want to) take a bag or coat with you into the museum. Either don’t bring them or be comfortable checking them at the door.

If you don’t leave this place bruised, dripping in sweat, and deliriously happy then you did something wrong. Go back in and try again. Check the website for hours and ticket prices; they change based on the season. We were there in the middle of the week, in the morning, in September – we basically had free run of the place since school was in session.


  1. Wow! Now I am so very glad my friend Adrianne is moving back to St. Louis! Road trip! Can hardly wait! This is gonna be fun!


  2. It seems really to be great museum. In our world there so many gorgeous museums which offer for everyone experiences. I love smaller museums, which I can visit in one or two ours. Also, I love museums, which have a theme. For example in Finland we have Teddy Bear museum, Coffee Cup Museum having about 2000 coffee cups round the world, Mechanical Music museum. Because I love history, this is my favorite in Finland:

    Luostarinmäki Handicrafts Museum.

    Happy weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

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