Photo by Tom Stepleton

Why I Love the City Museum

Mark Walhimer Exhibition Design, Museum Planning, Top 10 Lists 4 Comments

Photo by  Tom Stepleton

Photo by Tom Stepleton

So what do I love?  This, coming from a man about to get married in eight days.  Besides my fiance, I love the City Museum.  Why do I love the City Museum?

    1. Organic – The museum was started by Bob Cassilly and his wife Gail Soliwoda sculptors turned real estate developers.  They in collaboration with their artist friends started a museum and it grew.
    2. Community Based – The museum started with the help of local artists, teachers, students and craftspeople making it of St. Louis.  There is no other museum like it in the world, making it an attraction to St. Louis.
    3. Welcoming – The “voice” of the museum is welcoming, it is about the visitor, not the museum, as a visitor “what do your think?”, “what can you make?”.  The museum is outward facing not inward facing, the museum’s “voice” is  saying “we are here for you !”.
    4. Arts Lens – Almost all of the experiences at the museum are through the “lens” of an artist.  As a visitor you become an artist and see the wonders of the world as an artist sees them.
    5. $12 Admission – A local movie in St. Louis is $6.75 (I looked).  Although museum admission is more than a local movie, they offer $10 tickets on Friday and Saturday after 5Pm, a brilliant idea to attract couples and under 18 visitors.
    6. Event Based –   Last time I visited I had my fortune read, although different than a typical museum event, the museum is event driven.
    7. Encourages Conversation – The museum made me happy, I was standing at the top of the stairs waiting for my friend and playing with one of the stairway rollers, a group of kids came up and together we started spinning the rollers.  Upstairs, I had a conversation about my friends collection of flashlights and how his collection would fit in at the museum.  These are not big conversations, but the place is so happy and free you find yourself talking to people.
    8.  Wonderful – In every sense of the word, the museum creates “wonder”, the museum is wonderful as in exciting and the museum is wonderful as in unusually good.
    9. Constructivist – There are almost no text panels in the museum, the museum allows the visitor to deconstruct their previous thinking and change their views
    10. Workbench Attitude – The world is lacking in workbenches.  I don’t know of any homes with a workbench today.  Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak launched their business in Job’s garage at a work bench.
    11. Hands on, Minds on, Body on– The City Museum activates all of the senses, works with different learning styles and is interactive using your hands, your mind and your body.
    12. Artful – Makes me want to go home and make Art, maybe the highest compliment a visitor can pay to a museum.

City Museum
701 North 15th Street
St. Louis, MO 63103
(314) 231-2489

Obituary of Bob Cassilly Founder of the City Museum


Comments 4

  1. I recall the enthusiasm for The City Museum when the AAM annual meeting was held in St. Louis. I also recall the debate The City Museum sparked about such attractions using the word “museum” as part of their identity (The City Museum is not accredited by AAM). I’m eager to hear where others are in this debate. Mark, where are you with it?

  2. Hi Matt, 
    Thank you for the comments.  I was tempted to put the word museum in quotation marks of the  City Museum.  I do not believe the City Museum is a museum in the strictest sense  of the word, as “a facility to store, display and protect culture” or that it should become an AAM accredited museum.  But, I do believe it is a museum in the same sense as a Science Museum is to communicate and disseminate content.  In the case of the City Museum the content is an artful view of the world.  

  3. I love this museum just from the photo.  I don’t care what they call it, just want to go there.  

  4. I agree, I’d like to go there as well. I’m in school to be a museum director at Santa Fe University and I”d love to work there!

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