Where can you learn the stories of Civil War soldiers, discover little-known facts about famous figures such as Chuck Berry, and see St. Louis Cardinals artifacts from the 1960's Busch Stadium all in one place? The Missouri History Museum boasts an expansive collection of photographs, artifacts, and maps that reveal some of the nation's and state's most intimate stories. Originally built as the first national monument to Thomas Jefferson, the site now offers exhibits that include items such as the sister plane to Charles Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis and images of the buildings and grand palaces that were erected for the 1904 World's Fair.
In addition to rotating exhibits, events such as lectures, genealogical workshops, theatrical performances, and movie screenings offer guests a bridge to the past and a new perspective on the future. The museum is also planning a 2014 exhibit to commemorate St. Louis's 250th anniversary, which will unfold via 50 people, 50 places, 50 moments, 50 images, and 50 objects representing the city's richness and diversity.
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.
CAM St. Louis’s sleek structure houses a dynamic forum for innovative, boundary-pushing contemporary art. Members gain free access to the museum’s ever-changing exhibitions by both well-known and emerging creatives such as the Cyprus-based Christodoulos Panayiotou, whose works examining the construction of national identity and history have made him one of the most compelling young European artists working today. Four guest passes enable members and their friends and family to share the provocative intrigue of Robert Breer’s 1957 and comment on the films' lack of a cowbell-heavy soundtrack. Because CAM St. Louis is a non-collecting institution, exhibitions in the Main Gallery and Front Room rotate regularly to afford a new experience with each visit and keep room corners free from provoked-thought buildup.
The editors of 10Best named the Lewis and Clark Boat House and Nature Center one of the top 10 historic sites in St. Louis. Lewis and Clark Road Trips: Exploring the Trail Across America featured the Lewis and Clark Boat House and Nature Center.
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 educational sessions on car and bike safety. Visitors can refuel for exploration at the on-site Picnic Basket Cafe, whose menu highlights whole grains and healthy ingredients.
In a modern world where historic buildings are demolished daily to make room for hip new watergun stores, museums are more important than ever. Today’s Groupon gets tenacious time-travelers and dedicated diorama builders a $3 admission to the historic Campbell House Museum, a $6 value. The first house in the elegant Lucas Place neighborhood, Campbell House was the home of influential fur trader and entrepreneur Robert Campbell. After a recent five-year-long restoration to the tune of $3 million Earth dollars, Campbell House is one of the most accurately restored 19th-century buildings in America and home to the period paintings, furniture, light fixtures, clothing, old-fashioned LaserDisc player, and the correspondence of its previous tenants. Residue: Haunted houses, especially those that have been neglected for a long time, tend to accumulate a powdery "ghost residue," which compounds in layers on shelves, the tops of books, furniture and pottery, and even floats freely in the air, illuminated by an afternoon sunbeam. While many write this off as dust, this explanation does not account for its preternatural taste.
The Museum of Transportation sprawls across 129 acres, presenting its vast collection of automobiles, boats, planes, and trains dating from the mid-1800s to the present day. More than 70 massive locomotives reside in the museum, including the largest successful steam locomotive, the Union Pacific Big Boy—though later examinations revealed that the train is actually female. Explore rare autos—including a motor carriage dating back to 1901 and rides owned by Dean Martin and W.C. Fields—and a fleet of military aircraft that constantly snubs visitors by pointing their nose cones skyward. A miniature locomotive leads a following of bright-red cars around the museum grounds, and the hands-on Creation Station gives tots aged 5 and under the opportunity to familiarize themselves with modes of transportation outside of diesel-powered strollers.