7.28.2008

St. Louis: City Museum, Country Living


I left my colorful flophouse appointments in southernmost Illinois (although it had been the scene of the third iteration in less than a month of a compliment relating to the quality of my fine looking legs) just before noon Saturday and headed back across the river into St. Louis.


I was in search of the City Museum (http://www.citymuseum.org/about.html) which is housed at the former site of the International Shoe Company in downtown St. Louis, damn near in the shadow of the Arch. The City Museum is the brainchild of arist Bob Cassilly and is a fantasy playground awash with color, whimsy and cheek. It's clever but not slick, hip but not elitist and incredibly fun without all those pesky and unnecessary warnings.

Cassilly and his team of artists (rumored to be around 20 in number) have covered almost every square inch of the old factory with interesting and beautiful objects, a good bit of it salvaged industrial objects repurposed for beauty and wonder. Above, for example, bread pans have been used to make a curvilinear (I just had to use that word) wall surface that encloses the bathrooms, standing approximately 100 feet long and 10 feet high. It catches the light beautifully and shows off the intricate mosaics that surround it.


Slides, tunnels, passages, crawlspaces, secret entrances, pathways and overlooks riddle the entire 3 story complex. Imagine a three story gorgeously rendered Habitrail for humans! It was a beehive of activity when I was there with ecstatic children swarming everywhere. I tried to imagine the passion I would have felt as a child about being let loose in that place. I would never, ever, have wanted to go home. Now I have the knees of an old lady, and I instead merely walked around in wonderment, bedecked with an enormous smile for at least the first hour I was there.

There were diorama tributes to the corndog, the world's largest pair of underwear and a Midwest spatula collection in one area. That's where I sat and drank my beer. Yes, beer. How civilized is that to serve beer at your museum?! The museum also stays open until 1:00 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. I think that's the coolest. I really want to go back for a nighttime visit.
.
One of the most popular attractions at the Museum is a long, long 2.5 story slide that shoots the rider down a peaked tunnel of conveyor belt rollers that have been painted in different colorful patterns. As you barrel down the chute, you can extend your hands by your sides and turn all the rollers as you go by. It makes a great sound and a dazzling visual display, especially if you look behind you as you go. I went down twice and would have gone more if those damn kids hadn't gotten in my way!
.
I very much enjoyed my visit to the Museum and was very inspired by the character and beauty of the place. I once again found myself in deep awe of what people can do when they put their minds to it. I'd even go so far as to say my faith in humanity was a bit restored.


After leaving the museum, I drove out to far western St. Louis (almost in the country!) to visit my friend Erin's family. We had a very enjoyable dinner (classic midwestern: pork steaks, potato salad, green salad and biscuits - fabulous!) and not long after we'd cleared the table and watched a bit of baseball, the downdrafts of an approaching thunderstorm tossing the trees outside caught my attention. The first tendrils of lightning and a rush of cool air coaxed me immediately out onto the deck to enjoy the first good storm I'd seen in a long while. Erin's dad Eugene was nice enough to bring me a rain slicker so I could throw it over my bulk and sit under the eaves with my legs sticking out in the rain. It was beyond fabulous. Tick off another amazing day and I'm beginning to think I'm charmed.

2 comments:

nealw111 said...

Your adventures are just rocking my universe, Shiree. Have fun and think about all us folks back in Tejas while you are out burning up the highway.

Have a beer for me.......



N.

ChrisB said...

I would SO do a road trip to that museum! I won't grow up - I won't I won't I won't!