The Art of Using Reclaimed Materials at the City Museum

To say we knew what to expect at the City Museum wouldn’t be totally truthful.  We actually found the City Museum by way of the Aquarium that is inside on the third floor.  I was intrigued and it looked like the perfect way to spend a very cold day.

It is housed in the 600,000 square-foot former International Shoe Company.  When I told Bryan we were headed to a museum for the day this was not what he expected.  It is an eclectic mixture of children’s playground, fun house, surrealistic pavilion, and architectural marvel made out of unique, repurposed objects. It all began with a vision by an acclaimed artist Bob Cassilly.

Cassilly and his longtime crew of 20 artisans have constructed the museum quite literally from the very essence of the city.  Using reclaimed building materials from within the municipal city limits, City Museum has rescued and restored old chimneys, salvaged bridges, construction cranes, miles of tile, tons of steel and even two abandoned planes!  Clearly there is no where else quite like the City Museum.

It was very, very cold.  The outside is a treasure in itself.  You can’t really tell exactly how amazing it is, but all the metal you see above is mazes, stairs and lots and lots of places to climb and explore if only it were warm outside.  Austin was bummed he couldn’t play anyways but we will have to come back during the summer months to be able to take advantage of all the cool outdoor spaces.  When we came out late in the afternoon the snow was falling.

The mosaics were everywhere, on the floor, on the walls, incorporated into every part of the museum.  Many pieces used in the mosaics, just as in the museum itself are actually reclaimed pieces.  Each one is a treasure and tells a story.  To say that there was something amazing to climb on, in or down into everywhere is an understatement.

There were lots of tight places that I just couldn’t make it in (and there were just as many for “big” kids too) but the kids had a blast figuring out where they could get through and where they lead.  You could literally explore all day.  The caves were amazing, although we barely explored because the kids wanted to climb on all the cool things on the other levels. This big fish the children are standing at on the left is the entrance to one of the large slides that comes down two stories.  Addie enjoyed it once but Austin and Bryan went down the big slide many times!

We took a break from all the fun to have delicious sandwiches at Sammy’s.  You could order pizza, salads and sandwiches.  We ordered three different types of sandwiches and all were delicious.  I also had the pleasure to briefly speak with Ms. L who actually is responsible for almost all the mosaics laid throughout the museum.  She is beyond talented!  Here she is working on columns in the eating area of Sammy’s.  She has been working on them since the museum opened.

We stumbled upon an actual kids train that of course my children couldn’t wait to ride.  It was very cute and just their size.

The top picture is a jungle gym of sorts that the kids can climb on.  There were a few slides intertwined and lots of places to climb down into.  By this point, Mama and Daddy were very tired and I was done climbing.  Austin was content with playing with this human top.  It was very scary to watch the big kids play on it earlier but he was beyond excited to try it out.  Of course I was worried about it tipping but he wasn’t and had a blast!

There were so many other things that I just couldn’t fit into this post but trust me, if you live in Saint Louis or are visiting Saint Louis on vacation, the City Museum is truly a treasure.  It is a work of art that brings art alive.  It isn’t just for the little ones nor is it a museum just for adults.  It truly has something for all to enjoy.  If you are visiting, I would highly suggest planning the better part or entire day here.

It truly is a gift to take what others would consider has been junk and turn it into such an amazing gift, a true treasure.  A treasure is exactly what City Museum truly is.

I was provided with media passes to experience City Museum.  All thoughts and opinions are as always, 100% those of myself and my family.

12 thoughts on “The Art of Using Reclaimed Materials at the City Museum”

  1. If during our travels we are in St. Louis, I want to take my kids to the City Museum for sure! I love that indoor train. Such a fun place to visit with kids. Thank you for sharing.

  2. As a St. Louisan I can recommend the City Museum 100%. It is such a gem! Truly a unique place…and that’s an understatement. So glad you guys enjoyed it.

  3. What a cool looking museum! I love anything that is repurposed, but I’ve never seen something done on this large of a scale. I would literally be there ALL DAY LONG in awe of what they’ve created. Definitely adding this to our list of places to visit one day! Thanks for sharing!

  4. That looks like so much fun! We make it a point to visit a museum/children’s museum whenever we are on vacation. The pictures are adorable, too. 🙂

  5. Your adventures look so fun!! My kids would love a museum like this. We’ll have to add Saint Louis to our list of cities to visit with the kids soon.

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