Tuesday, May 30, 2006

In Praise of the City Museum

The St. Louis City Museum is absolutely the most amazing place for children in the whole world. It has permanently bumped Golden Gate Park to #2.

From the minute we drove up to the gate, we were in awe. “Do you think we can climb on that thing?” I asked as Warren and I stared at the MonstroCity out front—a five story high collage of cranes, planes, castles, and sky tunnels.

“I don’t know,” he said. “I’ve never been here before.”

“There’s no way,” I said, simply amazed.

I had read on the website that we should all dress in long pants and closed toed shoes to take advantage of the museum’s many tunnels and slides, but I really had not grasped the magnitude of the climbing and sliding that we had in store. Everything in the museum is either recycled, salvaged, or found. There are no words to describe how incredible the results are. My pictures really don't do it justice.

We weren’t even through the front door before Satchel and Jiro started jumping up and down and pointing and climbing and screeching and hollering and just generally going crazy with happiness. Once we had bought our tickets ($12 each, free for Jiro) and secured our wristbands, I pulled out my ink pen and wrote Warren’s cellphone number on each of their arms in case we got separated.

The minute they got through the gate, Satchel and Jiro both ran up three huge flights of stairs to slide down the longest slide I have ever seen. Warren and I were right on their heels and I was amazed at how much fun we were already having. I also couldn’t believe that neither Satchel or Jiro hesitated before going down the slide—I have never once seen either of them attempt the large tunnel slide at the Memphis Children’s Museum.

It didn't take long for Warren and I to get completely winded going up and down the three flights of stairs, so we agreed to wrangle up the boys and find something equally fun, but not involving stairs. We found the skateless skate park almost immediately and the boys jumped right in, again amazing me with their complete lack of fear.

Between the bowls and slides there were several tunnels and the boys were in and out of them faster than I could keep up. Every once in awhile I managed to grab one of them and get them to take a few sips of water. They were already bright red, sweaty, and about as happy as they could be. We were surrounded by swarms of other kids (mostly in the 2-10 range) and parents and grandparents and we all seemed to be thinking the same thing: "This is awesome!"

Eventually, we set off to explore other parts of the museum like the Everyday Circus and Art City. I made Jiro stop for two seconds to take this picture and he was pissed!

The Everyday Circus didn't have a show for another hour and the boys were way to jacked up for Art City, so we decided to check out the gigantic MonstroCity out front. It took us awhile to make our way out, but once we did, we were caught up in a neverending maze that took us to unknown heights. I think we all surprised ourselves with what we were able to accomplish.

We must have played in the MonstroCity for at least two hours. We couldn't even get the kids to stop for a snowcone break. I show you this next picture not to scare you, but to let you know how high impact this activity was. Keep in mind I am a super fit derby mama!

And I thought I was looking so cute! Ha. It was at this point that we decided to go inside and check out the aquarium. Satchel and Warren got sidetracked in the enchanted caves, but Jiro and I soldiered on. I followed him around as he excitedly screamed, "Nemo!" at every fish we passed. The aquarium cost $6 extra, but it was worth it. There were tons and tons of fish tanks and aquariums, and best of all, lots of "touching stations." And in true City Museum style, the aquarium featured all kinds of hidden nooks and crannies to crawl in and explore.

After an hour or so of that, I begged the boys to take a break for lunch. We went to "Sammiches," one of three restaurants inside City Museum. I ordered sammiches for me and Warren and a little pizza and juice for the kids. The menu was actual pretty impressive--not a coke or a chicken nugget in sight. They actually served beer and I was very tempted to get one. We found a table tucked into the wall and patiently waited for the food. Well, I patiently waited. Satchel and Warren disappeared into a giant treehouse and Jiro went down yet another slide. When the food was ready, I called Warren's cellphone and he and the boys found me. The boys were too excited to eat very much, so Warren and I ended up eating their castoffs. "How can they not be starving?" I asked no one in particular.

We went back through the treehouse, back through the caves, and through the aquarium one more time before I made the executive decision to call it a day. It was 2:30pm and I was worn out! The only thing the City Museum is missing is a nap room for parents--I'm sure the kids would have been able to make it another few hours. (On the weekends, the museum stays open until 1am, presumably for older kids and adults--how cool is that?)

The City Museum is definitely a place that we will return to year after year. It seems to be ever evolving and the sky is the limit! According to their website, they are adding a water park on the roof this summer! As we drove away, Warren noticed a big school bus perched on the roof and said, "We didn't even get to the top!" Maybe we won't even wait a year--Labor Day weekend anyone??

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

it sounds fun! We meant to go last time we were in st louis, but didn't. so definitely this summer!

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