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10 Best Museums to Visit in St. Louis

The river city of St. Louis is one of the top art and cultural centers in the United States. The museums in the city are not limited to art museums and include some of the top science, telephone, transportation, music, economy, manuscript, and even a chess museum. Interestingly, many of the museums are publically funded. The privately funded museums also have low admission prices yet are world-class. With interactive exhibitions, events, and courses offered by the museums, visitors are sure to enjoy the museum city of St. Louis. 

Here is our list of must-visit museums in the city- 

1. City Museum St. Louis MO

The  City Museum St. Louis is a hundred-year-old warehouse in Downtown in which artists have built miles of tunnels, slides, castles, and bridges using pieces of old cities. Interestingly, the museum is always under construction and won’t ever be complete! None of the construction at the museum is behind closed doors and visitors can see the work in progress. Secret passages, art galleries, graffiti, and walls made from lab rat cages adorn the museum. The building also has a circus, a train, a rooftop school bus, and even a Ferris wheel. With kids crawling through caves and young adults exploring the steampunk metal staircases, the museum is one of the most family-friendly destinations in the city.

2. St. Louis History Museum

Missouri History Museum in St. Louis is home to some of the best traveling exhibits which extensively cover all the aspects of  American history. The collection at the museum includes both national and native artifacts. History lovers are often seen exploring artifacts from 1804-1806 Lewis and Clark Expedition. Artifacts from Louisiana Purchase Exposition and some of the rare items related to Charles Lindbergh and his trans-Atlantic flight are also housed at the museum. As popular as the museum, is its dining venue, Bixby’s restaurant. From burgers to steaks, sandwiches to desserts, the menu at the restaurant is sure to satiate your epicurean palette. 

3. Science Museum St. Louis

Built under an 80-foot dome, the St. Louis Science Center and Planetarium is a collection of buildings that include a planetarium and a science museum. Spread over 300,000 sq ft and housing more than 750 exhibits, the museum offers one of a kind experience to visitors.  Guests can experience an earthquake, enjoy a virtual thrill ride, and watch larger than life shows in the Omnimax theater.  Those willing to explore the stars in depth must watch the star shows which provide an immersive experience of the largest artificial sky in the Western Hemisphere.  Kids can take a tour of the Boeing Space Station exhibits and even experience the thrill of coming face to face with a dinosaur. Moreover, the Science Center in St. Louis also has a cutesy café named the Galaxy café which offers some of the best snacks and drinks. While the enriching experience of the museum can always be kept in memory, visitors can also purchase space-themed items and apparel at the Planetarium Shop.

4. St. Louis Children’s Museum

Designed for providing the best educational experiences to children, the Magic House Children Museum is home to more than 100 interactive exhibits and hands-on activities. Exploring exhibits is fine, what most children need is a large play area. For the same  Magic House St. Louis has more than 50,000 sq feet of space where kids can play. Some of the most popular exhibits at the museum include the Jack and the Beanstalk three-floors-high climber, a Van de Graff Generator, the Oval Office, Legislative Chamber, and a courtroom where kids can work and indulge in some imaginative play.  No doubt, kids of all age groups love exploring different professions and enacting them. The museum provides just the right setting for kids to explore and enjoy.  As a matter of fact, the St. Louis kids museum is visited by more than half a million people each year. 

5.Museum of Transportation St. Louis

Spread over 42 acres, the National Museum of Transportation has the largest collection of transportation vehicles in the world. The variety of vehicles at the museum span over 15 decades of American History. Aircrafts, locomotives, railroad equipment, boats, and cars from different parts of the United States can be found at the museum and is sure to entice the curious self in you. Over the years the museum’s rail and transit collections have grown tremendously and have more than 190 exhibits on display as of now. As a matter of fact, the museum also has its railway spur connected to an active mainline owned by the Union Pacific Railroad. Thus, allowing the museum to store and display large and rare pieces of railroad equipment.

6. National Blues Museum

National Blues Museum has been built to celebrate the spirit of Modern American music. The museum helps visitors explore the musical history and the wide-spread impact of blues music. The learning environment at the museum has been built to suit the needs of learners. It involves robust public programming, high impact technology-driven experiences, artifact-driven exhibits, and a state-of-the-art theater. Live performances and events are also organized regularly by the museum to keep up with the ever-changing public demands. No trip to a museum is ever complete without indulging in some good soul food. Interestingly, some of the city’s best restaurants and eating joints can be found near the museum. It is suggested that tickets to the museum are booked in advanced and it is visited on weekdays to avoid crowds.

7.Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum

Built-in 1881, the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum is one of the oldest art museums in St. Louis. The museum is a part of the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University. Some of the rare American and European paintings, photographs, and sculptures from the 19th, 20th, and the 21st century are displayed at the museum. The museum is well-suited to the likes of art lovers and organizes regular exhibitions, events, and guided tours. Cafes and restaurants offering multiple cuisines can be easily found near the museum

8. The Economy Museum 

The Economy Museum at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis immerses the visitors in a unique experience which explains the role of people in the economy, the fun way. The museum is home to more than 100 interactive exhibits, games sculptures, and videos that take guests on a hands-on journey. The museum experience has been divided into five zones. The first two zones explain the concepts of scarcity, the path to good credit, different types of capital, and the effect of education on future earnings. While the other three zones take the visitors on a journey to international stock exchanges, agricultural markets, the importance of trade, how technology and trade connect the world economy, and how the standards of living vary from one nation to the other. Visitors will also get the opportunity to lift a gold bar. The museum also has a dedicated gift shop that lets guests purchase money souvenirs, stationery items, umbrellas, plush toys, magnet, sunglasses, T-shirts with the museum’s logo. 

9. Pulitzer Art Foundation 

Built by internationally renowned Japanese architect Tadao Ando, the Pulitzer Arts Foundation organizes temporary art exhibitions. It is claimed to be “one of the loveliest places in the country” to experience and live the art. The museum has also exhibited selected works by Ellsworth Kelly from St. Louis Collections. To enhance the uninterrupted exploration of art the works at the museum are installed without wall labels. One of the most popular exhibitions organized by the museum was the Blue Black (2017) exhibition curated by Glen Ligon. 

10. Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum

The Karpeles Manuscript Library is home to more than a million manuscripts and documents in the United States. It was built with a mission to stimulate learning among people. In order to encourage learning, there are several Karpeles museums spread across the country. The Karpeles Library has the world’s largest private holding of precious and rare manuscript documents. Some of the popular exhibits at the museum include a copy of the proclamation of France’s approval of the Louisiana Purchase and a yearbook from Fidel Castro’s high school. The manuscripts are rotated between museums every quarter. Also, each museum presents a daily generally exhibit and other special exhibits throughout the year. 

With a mix of new and old, the list of things to do at St. Louis is endless. Moreover, many of the museums in the city offer free admission which makes them top the list on budget exploration. The wide variety of museums have been built keeping in mind people of all ages and the visitors are sure to be intrigued by all that the city has to offer. All this and a lot more, makes the city of St. Louis, one of the most family-friendly destinations. 

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