Recycled Fun

Bring the kids for a wacky (and Earth-friendly) adventure in St. Louis.
Jennifer McKenzie Frazier

City Museum. The name doesn’t measure up to the place.

It’s more like a fun house. Or a zany playground. An awesome amusement park. This is an architectural marvel, thanks to founder and creator Bob Cassilly. He’s like Willy Wonka without the candy but with the same youthful imagination and spirit.

Kids can disappear into the mouth of a whale, zoom down huge slides constructed of metal parts, jump in a billion balls, or hammer out a rockin’ tune on an old piano as loudly as they like. This is the farthest thing from a stuffy, be-quiet-and-don’t-touch museum.

One Man’s Junk…
“Just about everything here is made out of found objects,” says director Rick Erwin. “People call up with items they want to donate, and we use them. We go to scrap yards. It’s constant change.” Bob’s pure-Green idea: to do something more interesting and more satisfying than throwing waste in a recycling bin or a landfill. “We don’t try to deliberately be Green. We just are. It happens because we reuse everything here,” says Rick.

You’ll see, among other things, two Sabre 40 aircraft fuselages, a vintage statue of Kip’s Big Boy (from the hamburger joint of yesteryear), old chimneys, and windows from churches. There’s more. How about a fire engine, a castle turret, and the world’s largest No. 2 pencil? You’ll also find a movie theater, a collection of artificial caves to explore, and two three-story slides.

It sounds exhausting, but it’s not. I thought I’d be here for about an hour. Instead I spent five hours and could have stayed longer. I overheard one little boy say to his mom, “This is better than Disney!”

City Museum: 701 North 15th Street, St. Louis, MO 63103; www.citymuseum.org or (314) 231-2489.

Admission Tip
After 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, admission is reduced to $10 from the $12 general admission fee (ages 3 and up). Metered parking is available on the street, or you can park in the museum lot for $5.