City Museum is a museum playhouse, consisting mostly of various industrial and architectural property and objects, located in the Washington National Loft District of St. Louis Missouri. This was the former International Shoe building. Opened in 1997, there were more than seven hundred thousand visitors in 2010.
The Museum has been named one of the “great public spaces” by the Project for Public Spaces and has won many local and national awards as a unique destination. The Museum has also been named as a wild vision of an oddball artistic mind, often compared to the similarly eccentric Museum of Jurassic Technology in Los Angeles.
History of City Museum, Saint Louis, MO
The Museum was developed by artist Bob Cassilly and his wife, Gail Cassilly. The museum’s structure was once an International Shoe Company business and storage house, however vacant when the Cassilly’s bought it in 1993, with construction beginning in January 1995.
The City Museum opened to huge crowds on October 25, 1997. Over three hundred thousand visitors came to the museum in the first 2-years.
The museum has since grown in size, with new exhibits such as MonstroCity in 2002, Shoe Shaft, and Enchanted Caves in 2003, and World Aquarium in 2004.
Cassilly was the museum’s artistic director until his passing in 2011.
The Floors at the City Museum
A third floor circus ring offers daily live acts. The City Museum also includes the Shoelace Factory, with antique braiding machines making colorful shoelaces for sale. The Museum has also hosted concerts.
On the 5th floor there are apartments, called the Lofts at City Museum, which vary in size from 1,300 to 2,800 square feet.
On the original first floor part of the museum is the infamous life-size Bowhead Whale that guests can traverse through and view a fish tank at the mezzanine or the exciting “Puking Pig.” Also on the first floor are a number of tunnels that hang across the ceiling, above a large amount of fiberglass insulation designed to look like icicles. To enter, one can climb up a Slinky like refrigerator coil, (donated by Anheuser-Busch), or through a tree house heading into a huge hollowed out tree that leads to a cabin on the other side. The floor is designed using the largest continuous mosaic pieces in the U.S., which then crawl their way up columns, covering all sections of this floor. There is a tunnel known as the “Underground Whaleway,” which runs under the floor and towards the “Original Caves.”
Easily one of the museum’s most exciting attractions, the Enchanted Caves and Shoe Shafts go directly through the middle of the Museum, continuing to the 10th floor. Opened in 2003, the elaborate cave system was hand-sculpted by Bob Cassilly and his team. Everywhere you look, a creature is staring back.
The Roof at the City Museum
The roof boasts an old-fashioned Ferris Wheel, as well as a slide that runs under a small pond. The pond has stepping stones that lead from one side to the other. There is also an authentic school bus that used to work, out from the edge of the building. Visitors are allowed to enter the school bus and open the driver side door.
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