Could This Be The Strangest Museum in America?

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Calling it “City Museum” seems a deliberate conceit. Hiding the extraordinary within the mundane, like using code words to talk about a secret hideout without alerting the squares. That said, we’re not sure what’d be a better term, either. As is the case with the Meow Wolf building George R. R. Martin recently financed in Santa Fe, many labels could apply to what sculptor-cum-entrepenuer Bob Cassilly has masterminded in St. Louis. None would describe it fully, though.

Part funhouse, part playground, part junkyard, and yes, part museum, it’s home to a rooftop Ferris wheel, emptied airplanes, ball pits, classical sculptures, fish tanks, a giant mantis, and a whole network of industrial-grade slides. So, to get closer to answering what it actually “is,” we should probably just heed its publicity team’s statement.

“We can’t describe the museum in words, so best to show you in videos and images.”

Thus, in that spirit, please enjoy this promo video from the City Museum’s official YouTube channel.

If that fly’s eye view of all the attractions didn’t make this any clearer, a few of Cassilly’s statements on the Museum’s official site clarify his intentions some.

“The point is not to learn every fact, but to say, ‘Wow, that’s wonderful.’ And if it’s wonderful, it’s worth preserving.”

So, a bit like the Museum of Jurassic Technology in Los Angeles, the aim here is less to give rote lessons and more to provoke attendees into seeing their world differently. We can dig that. Since Cassilly opened the place in ’97, he’s reclaimed and re-purposed countless pieces of urban landscape–bridges, cages, chimneys, cranes, etc–as if to reflect his city through a warped funhouse mirror.

But if that sounds too highfalutin, we’re sure the joint works just as well for anybody who simply wants to speed down some gnarly slides. Like so.

Have any readers been here? How exactly would you describe it? And what other hard-to-categorize museums are worth a write-up? Please fill our talkback with suggestions!

Featured Image Credit: City Museum / daniel-charles

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