The City Museum: No. Just ... No.

Once upon a time … a serious case of sensory overload almost killed me. Seriously, you guys. I. Could. Have. Died.

Have you heard of the City Museum in St. Louis? If you like feeling claustrophobic, having children crawl above, under, and around you through metal cages, and being surrounded by chaos … this place is for you. If the combination of those three things sounds miserable to you … STAY AWAY. I’m in the “stay away” group, and wish I had known this before putting myself through what I've decided was a casual get together in Satan's backyard.

Here's a little teaser: Can you tell who enjoyed this experience, and who couldn't handle it?!

A few weeks ago, my family spent a day in St. Louis. We decided we just had to see the museum that multiple sources had been raving about. Surely we would love it just as much as they did. However, we missed one little detail: we forgot to look into exactly what this place was. We went in blind, and that was our own mistake and our own lesson to learn.

I heard the word “museum” and assumed there would be maps, exhibits, educational plaques, museum curators, and a healthy learning environment. None of those things were present. Also missing: my ability to breathe and think.

Here’s how it all goes down:

At the hotel, the concierge looks at my feet and tells me I can’t wear sandals to the City Museum. It’s against their policy. I can’t wear sandals at a MUSEUM? Won’t I just be walking around and reading stuff on plastic signs? What kind of a place is this? I change my shoes and am extremely confused.

My family walks into the building and THERE ARE PEOPLE EVERYWHERE. Running upstairs, running downstairs, looking confused, looking excited, looking like they are either going to trample me or eat me.

Well. This doesn’t look like any museum I’ve ever been to before. My breath is growing short.
Where do I look? Where do I go? What do I do? What is happening?
I don't know what this is, but I don't like it.
After purchasing our tickets, we all look around and wonder where the heck we’re supposed to go. So we walk up to a man who appears to work at the museum, and ask him for help. He says nothing but points to a button on his shirt that says: “No maps. Explore!”


My sister is delighted by this and walks away. We follow her. She leads us into a cave, and my lungs shut down. Literally, I’ve forgotten how to breathe entirely. Why? I am inside a building, but some crazy whack job architect decided to build a collection of caves in said building. So rather than being surrounded by walls and lights like is supposed to be the case in buildings, I am surrounded by cold, hard rocks, darkness, shrieking, metal cages, and SO MANY PEOPLE. Is this some kind of torture chamber? I daintily step from rock to rock, having to take care to dodge children who are crawling out from every direction. Also there are spikes on lots of the rocks that remind me of fire breathing dragons and metal tunnels that are just wide enough for human bodies to fit through. People are crawling through these tunnels butt-to-face. Where. Am. I. As I’m looking around thinking that this is what the apocalypse might feel and look like, Carolyn makes a b-line for a sign that says “10-story slide this way.”

Picture this but darker and add 20 billion squirming bodies
Why did those spikes remind me of dragons? Oh good. Because there are dinosaurs everywhere.
I’m now walking deeper into the caves, in search of the fabled 10-story slide. Or as I prefer to call it, the death chute. My family can tell that I’m in panic mode, and are somewhat sympathetic but mostly entertained. On we march.

We soon find a slide and wonder aloud if it’s the death chute we’ve been searching for, or merely some random transport to another torture chamber below. A random passerby informs us that the death chute is further up, and has a 45-minute wait.


I’m not waiting 45 minutes to die. Torture transport it is. I hate my life while sliding down. I inch along incredibly slowly so as not to pile up on top of small children that took the plunge before me. I get to the bottom and am so over it. My dad is bleeding. We’re all over it. All of us except for Carolyn, that is, who says she is determined to find the death chute. She disappears to fulfill her mission, leaving the rest of us to blink in bewilderment and try to determine what to do next. I can’t concentrate because there are bodies crawling everywhere and DID I MENTION ALL THE SCREAMING. Caves echo, you know. I've been spelunking. I can go through caves. But not when I'm sharing a cave with thousands of other bodies, all of whom are shrieking. Get me out of this place.

The morning rain has finally let up, so my mother suggests that we go outside to get some fresh air. Yes. Oxygen. Good. Except we get outside and it’s a whole new nightmare.

I can’t even. Just look.

I didn't think it could get worse, but it just did. Too many people. Too many metal torture chambers. Too many possible ways to die.. Too much, too much, too much.

My knees are shaking. My vision is blurry. My head is getting the spins. Possibility of passing out: likely. I’m refusing to allow my brain to function, because if I think anything, it will be that I’m about to die. Oh drat. I let that thought happen. I’m doomed. Goodbye life.

Experience my emotional unraveling firsthand: 

Where do I look? What do I do? Most importantly, HOW DO THESE PEOPLE THINK THAT THIS IS FUN?! My encouraging mother coaxes me into a small exploration of the outdoor space. We walk toward a castle and climb up into it. Oh look. A bird’s eye view of the craziness up close. I mean, look at these humans. They are climbing through wire cages that are suspended hundreds of feet in the air. And they’re totally fine with it.


On our walk back from the castle, I look down to see a human body crammed into a tiny cage underneath me. Aaaaaand I’m done.

This is not normal. Take me home.
Also there is a giant pit where children pelt each other with balls.
Chance of someone losing an eye = 100%

We return inside to meet Carolyn, where my parents escort me to an area that has fewer children escaping from the floor and ceiling than most other areas. I look at the turtles in the tank in front of me; they clearly are not fans of this situation either. I tell them I know exactly how they feel. We bond.

"Help me"
Carolyn asks if we can stay so she can go visit the world’s largest underpants. I look above my head at a life-size sculpture of a velociraptor that looks like it might eat me if the thousands of screaming children don’t consume me first.


I need a drink.

In conclusion, the City Museum ... No.

1 comment:

  1. You crack me up Becky! Reading this makes me want to hurry up and get back to that museum I visited when it first opened years back! I'm a little more like Carolyn I must admit...although I am 56 now and I'm not sure about being smooshed in tangled tunnels etc. And hopefully you don't go upside down anywhere. I determined (in the pool the other day) I can no longer do an underwater somersault without almost puking. I may have to live through the experience through your blog...I'm starting to think about all those zillions of little bodies trying to hurry me through caves... Ha! Fun to read!