Climb on the exhibits at this St. Louis museum

St. Louis City Museum, Monstro City, St. Louis, Missouri, August 22, 2010. Photo by H. Michael Miley.
St. Louis City Museum, Monstro City, St. Louis, Missouri, August 22, 2010. Photo by H. Michael Miley.

When you walk in to the City Museum, you’ll wonder, “is this really a museum?” The term “museum” is used somewhat loosely for the St. Louis City Museum. The overall theme is interesting repurposed objects and you’ll never hear anyone say, “don’t touch the art.”  Among the many interesting objects are:

  • A refrigeration coil from beer company Anheuser-Busch. It’s large enough to crawl through and is part of the passages on the first floor.
  • A 1924 Wurlitzer Pipe Organ from the Rivoli Theater in New York City. Its eerie tunes play in the enchanted caves.
  • Two 3,000-pound vault doors that were built in St. Louis in the 1800s.
  • A human-sized “hamster wheel” that was a piece of machinery used to make fuselages for small airplanes.
  • Two gutted aircraft fuselages that you can climb around in.

That’s just scratching the surface (notice the bus on the roof when you drove up? You can go in that too.)

You’ll quickly become turned around as one room melds into the next. This gives the City Museum a “choose your own adventure” feel. The best way to experience this museum is to go in and get lost but here are a few must-do things:

10 stories of terrifying fun–

#10storyslide #allthewaydown

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The 10 story tall spiral slide made from the old factory’s shoe chutes is fun if not a little bruising. After you climb the seemingly never ending stairs in the enchanted caves section, you’ll be at the precipice of this tightly wound slide. You can’t see the end of the slide while you’re hurtling down it and you’ll start to wonder if you’ve stumbled into some odd version of purgatory. By the end of it though, you’ll want to go again.

A sideshow and a haunting

On the 3rd floor, the City Museum’s collection of the odd and unusual explodes, covering every available surface. There’s a quiet concession stand tucked away in Beatnik Bob’s. Grab a soda and look around. You’ll wonder if you’ve stumbled into the circus, Area 51, or simply an alternate universe. This corner of the museum is dark, with no windows, and occasionally you’ll stumble upon some nightmare material. The nightmare material bit can be taken somewhat seriously– located on the same floor, in a section called the Architectural Museum, is a cross from the east wing of the Alexian Brothers Hospital in St. Louis, the hospital where the exorcism, made famous in the film, The Exorcist, was conducted. As if that weren’t creepy enough, this floor is reportedly haunted. It’s rumored the piano plays itself and children’s laughter is heard when no children are around.

Climb new heights

Hopefully the rain won’t keep Monstro closed all day.

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You can’t help but notice the cage-like structures hanging off the front of the building when you drive up. Named “Monstro-city,” everything you see is climbable and terrifying. The spiral metal tunnels sway in heavy wind. There are several metal slides connected to the labyrinth of metal walkways and tunnels. Even if you’re not afraid of heights, peering down and seeing the ground 4 stories beneath your feet is unnerving.