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.
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.
Located in one of the new art spaces at Crestwood Court, award-winning artist Jeane Vogel's 4,000-square-foot gallery and studio showcases both her traditional and alternative-process photography. Black-and-white and color photographs of haunting, foggy morns and vibrantly hued beaches are displayed alongside dreamlike infrared photographs that capture a spectrum of light invisible to the eye of man, woman, or Sauron. Hand-altered Polaroid paintings (from $45) lend an impressionistic quality to a vintage medium generally employed in snapping covert shots of ghosts, whereas mixed-media paintings (from $245) use soft pastels to extend Polaroid images beyond their confining white borders. For beautiful images that tickle your earlobes as much as your brain lobes, Vogel's Art to Wear jewelry collection displays her Polaroid paintings in miniature as dangle-able glass or porcelain pendants (earrings from $44, necklaces from $25).
Laumeier Sculpture Park transports contemporary sculpture and its attendant acolytes from the traditional confines of the museum gallery to an outdoor art sanctuary. Casting Circle members traipse through 105 acres of sculpture by artists such as Tony Tasset, Ernest Trova, and Mark di Suvero before wielding their 10% discount during celebratory sprees at the museum shop. Members also enjoy discounts on iPod-guided audio tours, which fill noggins with tidbits of information during strolls through the park or confuse burglars when played through roof-mounted loudspeakers. Educational events, workshops, and classes dot the park’s schedule, and art camp nurtures the artistic pursuits of children as old as 15 during summertime sessions.