Though built as a private home in 1901, the Victorian mansion stood vacant for years?until its first children's hands-on exhibits opened to the public more than 30 years ago. Since then, The Magic House's curators have worked to engage children of all ages in learning and creative thought through a range of interactive multimedia exhibits. Their exhibits enable visitors to service cars, climb treehouse ladders, and go fishing in a child-centric community, or play with pumps and pipes in a waterworks playground. They can also climb a three-story fairy-tale beanstalk or use detective skills, fingerprint analyses, and secret passageways to solve mysteries.
Museum staffers also organize a range of themed birthday parties, during which attendees play and complete special tasks as time travelers, scientists, or fairy-tale nobility. Family programs encompass monthly visits from outside professional artists, and special events designed to get the whole family moving. Visitors can refuel for exploration at the on-site Picnic Basket Cafe, whose menu highlights whole grains and healthy ingredients.
Laclede's Landing Wax Museum has been scaring and astonishing sightseers since 1983. Behind its 1885 cast-iron façade, the museum harbors more than 200 life-size figures across five levels and 10,000 square feet of museum space. The display of doppelgangers includes presidents, superheroes, historic figures, and movie stars, allowing visitors to gaze upon scores of famous faces without taking the rigorous paparazzi entrance exam. In the Chamber of Horrors, fictional villains old and new, including Freddy Krueger and the Phantom of the Opera, test the mettle of onlookers. Patrons can stop by the museum's gift shop before leaving or replenish the energy spent arguing with the statues with the help of ice cream, hot dogs, and other snacks at the ice-cream parlor.
Something new is always happening at Saint Louis Science Center, where hundreds of staff members and volunteers ignite visitors’ passion for science and technology with educational exhibitions and special events. The center houses a four-story Omnimax Theater, a hands-on life-science lab and atrium, and a variety of constantly changing exhibitions that draw 1.2 million visitors every year. More than 9,000 stars revolve around the 80-foot domed ceiling of the James S. McDonnell Planetarium, whose two levels of exhibits explore the future of space travel, life on the international space station, or Pluto’s bureaucratic search to regain planetary status.
The Museum of Alaska Transportation and Industry traces its roots back to 1967, during the centennial celebration of Alaska becoming a territory of the US. At this time, it exhibited only six retired railroad cars that served as troop carriers during World War II and formed the Centennial Train, a traveling historical exhibit. Today, nearly 50 years later, the museum stays put at its 20-acre location that includes a train yard and an exhibit hall, where the staff collects, conserves, and restores artifacts relating to the state’s industrial history.
Today's Groupon gives adventurous art-lovers a yearlong individual membership with all the perks, at the award-winning Contemporary Art Museum for $20. Get a membership to take advantage of the museum's most ambitious group show since its grand opening: For the blind man in the dark room looking for the black cat that isn't there.
This three-story home might look unremarkable from the outside, but inside it holds a wealth of St. Louis history. The Eugene Field House & St. Louis Toy Museum opened in 1936 and has since been named a National Historic Landmark, because it once housed not one, but two men important to American history.
The Building: A line of 12 rowhouses were built here, in 1845, and Roswell Field and his family lived there for 14 years, from 1850 until 1864. Today, it's the last of the row left standing, and it's been lovingly restored both inside and out to appear much as it did in the late 19th century.
The Home: Decorated in period furnishings, including many that belonged to the Field family, the first floor holds an era-specific double-parlor entertaining space. The second features the master bedroom.
Dred Scott: The second floor also holds Roswell Field's study, which doubles as an exhibit on the landmark case of Dred Scott, a slave seeking freedom for whom Roswell acted as attorney as the case made its way to the Supreme Court.
The Toys: Eugene Field, Roswell's son, made a name for himself in the literary world, first as a humor writer for daily newspapers, then as a children's poet. Most people will probably know him for penning, among many, "Wynken, Blynken, and Nod." He was also an avid toy collector. The third floor displays a rotating collection of toys dating back to the 1780s, plus two and a half centuries' worth of books.
Past Exhibit: Over 200 "Liberty of London" dolls from the 1950s, which include famous people from politics, literature, and science.