St. Louis’s City Museum uses a sense of community to inspire future generations


James Farley

The Gateway Arch stands tall in the city of St. Louis.

James Farley, Fares Osman, and Grace Hsu

Dignified paintings. Majestic statues. Historic artifacts. These are the typical exhibits greeting visitors at museums across the United States. However, this is not the case for the City Museum in St. Louis, Missouri.

The City Museum, located in the heart of St. Louis, adds its own clever twist to its art, luring in tourists to their museum not for strictly viewing exhibits as a guest, but for immersing themselves in them. Throughout the museum, there are a wide variety of intriguing exhibits, ranging from multi-floor slides and tall treehouses, to spooky caves and odd sculptures. These interactive displays result in an enjoyable time for people of all ages. 

More powerful than an enjoyable time, however, is the inclusive community that the museum provides for anyone who walks in the door. Kids of all ages fill the museum, and due to the unique style of the museum, one’s new acquaintance can transform into a best friend in just a few hours. The creativity of the museum is truly the factor that forms such a strong community amongst the spectators in the museum.

“Our mantra is ‘play’. We want you to be able to go out and play. As you walk through the museum, you will see that there are many different elements that allow you to really explore your own destiny,” said City Museum General Manager Eric Gilbert. “You can climb in the caves, look at the artwork, or go down the slides. Immersive entertainment is key.”

These various hands-on facets that the museum offers allow for kids to step out of their shell and see the world through a creative lens. In a time where technology occupies so much of our time, the museum is a great place for one to clear their head and be themselves. 

The museum also provides the younger generation with the chance to be active and explore their imagination in several different ways. Immediately after walking in, people are greeted with an intimidating, yet exciting, slide. Similar unique exhibits fill the museum, including a wildlife section and dark caves to wander. These points ultimately lead to the roof of the museum, where there are nets and slides to play on, as well as a bus that hangs halfway off the roof of the building. 

“The museum is more of a big jungle gym than an actual museum,” said staff leader Rachel O’Rourke. “The whole point of coming here is to have fun and explore. It is a really great place to be.”

The positive community environment is not just for those that visit the museum, but also for the staff. the originality of the museum allows for a positive work environment throughout the museum. Everyday, the workers show up ready to improve the museum as much as they can to help inspire those that attend. 

“The city museum is the reason that downtown is what it is,” said gift shop worker Diane. “Everyone is so close that it is like a family unit.”

This “family unit” provides a sense of unity to the St. Louis community, striving to make those around them, and the world, a better place.

“Our vision is to provide the people of St. Louis with a place to be themselves, and discover who they want to be,” Gilbert said.