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.
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.
When it was first established in the early 1850s, the neighborhood known as Lucas Place was a piece of farmland on its way to becoming the first clearly defined wealthy suburb of St. Louis. Much has changed since then, as the city has expanded around the neighborhood and many of the elegant buildings have made way for more modern incarnations. One building, however, has largely stayed the same.
Built in 1851, the Campbell House was the home of renowned fur trader and businessman Robert Campbell and his family. The Campbells would continue to occupy the house until 1938, acquiring furniture, paintings, clothing, and other period artifacts to fill the house over the years. The family also took a detailed set of interior photographs in the 1880s that were only rediscovered in the late 20th century. These photographs would prove to be of great historical importance, as they formed the basis for a massive renovation project that would result in the opening of the Campbell House Museum.
Today, the Campbell House Museum attracts visitors from St. Louis and beyond, many of whom come to get a glimpse of what the city was like before modern conveniences such as electricity. The house retains many of the family's original possessions, as well as library books and state archives that offer a further glimpse into 19th-century American life.
Although only 70 visionaries have been inducted into the International Photography Hall of Fame and Museum, the facility is far from an exclusive club. Its aim is to educate everyone on the importance of photographic history—and people certainly seem interested. In 2013, they donated more than $15,000 dollars through Kickstarter to help build the IPHF's new facility.
Size: 6,000 square feet of gallery and exhibition space dedicated to the works and equipment of more than 500 artists
Eye Catcher: an antique Edison Projecting Kinetoscope
Hidden Gems: alongside well-known works by the likes of Ansel Adams are those of Eadweard Muybridge the first to photograph a moving subject—a galloping horse
Don't Miss: the library, which houses every issue of Life Magazine published in this dimension
Permanent Mainstay: The Photographic Equipment Collection, which includes antique cameras, magic lanterns, and darkroom equipment
Visiting Exhibit: _Portrait/Process_—a collection of contemporary photos, iconic images, and even smartphone portraits that examine voyeurism and
Pro Tip: flash-free photography is allowed in galleries and certain exhibits
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 35 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.
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.
A griot, in some African countries, is a person who works as a historian and storyteller, collecting tales from the community to preserve and share with future generations. The Griot Museum of Black History began as a wax museum, but the founders quickly realized that they aspired to a higher calling: to collect and preserve the stories of their community. They changed the museum's name to reflect this new mission, and the rest is history.
Speaking of history, the museum still relies on beautifully sculpted wax figures to tell the histories of many notable African-American leaders. Visitors will encounter effigies of Carter G. Woodson, Josephine Baker, and Harriet Scott, along with a number of interactive exhibits added more recently to the collection. Among these exhibits is an authentic slave cabin transported from the Wright-Smith Plantation, as well as a to-scale recreation of a ship's hold dating back to the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Additionally, the museum hosts touring exhibitions and live musical performances that explore African-American arts and culture.