St. Louis’ City Museum: the best stop on tour ever?

by Nick on September 15, 2012 · 11 comments

A photo essay by Nick Cordileone

 Angela’s note: Our good friend Nick Cordileone, who plays Timon in The Lion King on tour, went back to City Museum with his daughter Hero FOUR times within one week during the show’s short 3-week stint in St. Louis.  Nick takes incredible photos on his iPhone, so I recruited him to share their time there on 3 For The Road.


My 10-year-old daughter Hero says City Museum in St. Louis is the best place we have visited on tour, and I may have to agree.

Hero is a kinesthetic learner (person, really) and the do aspect of City Museum as opposed to watch is exactly her language.  It was artistic without pretense or stuffiness, and above all, very welcoming and inclusive.

From the City Museum website:
“Housed in the 600,000 square-foot former International Shoe Company, the museum is an eclectic mixture of children’s playground, funhouse, surrealistic pavilion, and architectural marvel made out of unique, found objects … “

Just walking up to City Museum, we knew we were in for an unbelievable time. Outside of the building, there were two planes, a school bus hanging off the roof, and a giant Praying Mantis!


Found objects interconnect to make human hamster tunnels.


The museum is covered in reclaimed building materials.


These repurposed materials make a giant tree. Circle of Life?


The outside installation is like walking in an Escher drawing.


There’s an Everyday Circus with its own school.


Completely immersive, you are encouraged to engage the art wherever you fit. Here, Hero’s on top of the world.


Hero was elated to be here. Probably why we went back 4 times!


Kitsch is celebrated.


There are very few “rules” and “no maps.” Just use common sense.


There’s an area called Art City – where you can paint, do metal work, sculpt, and create.


You can leave your creations to dry while you explore the rest of the museum.


Our favorite part was the 10-story slide. The site was formerly a shoe factory and the slides were used to transport between floors…


The slides!


Max and the block wall. There are a few 6-year-old and under sections to keep everyone safe.


It feels like a true artists’ studio, with layers of work immortalized on the paint table.


Love this place.

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Renee Spaulding September 15, 2012 at 10:46 am



Darrell Cohn September 16, 2012 at 7:24 am

Amazing photos, Nick! The color, spatial awareness, and angles are amazing. When are you posting more?


Nick September 21, 2012 at 4:07 pm

Thanks so much!

More to come…my wife just post a guest blog as well!



Jan Lileck September 17, 2012 at 10:05 am

This place looks awesome! I love the slides.


Nick September 21, 2012 at 4:07 pm

They were a blast!


Stephanie Jensen September 18, 2012 at 11:00 am

Hello Nick, our family saw The Lion King last week and we really enjoyed ourselves! My kids, ages 7 and 5, said that Timon was their favorite actor and they keep begging me to see it again. What a wonderful treat the whole show is. We do hope you and the rest of the cast enjoy your stay here in Wichita!

Stephanie, Mark, Leah and Gregory Jensen


Nick September 21, 2012 at 4:09 pm

Yea! Thanks so much!
We are having a blast. A lot of disc golf these days.


Frank D'Amato September 19, 2012 at 12:22 pm

Nick – Nice factual rendition of your four-fold experiences of the city musuem. Beyond describing the eclectic surroundings, I left thirsting for more information. I would have liked to know: How did this place make you and Hero feel? Given that Heo is “a kinesthetic learner”, what did she learn? What was most fun for her? What kinds of things did Hero get to do in the everyday circus? Do you create anything in art city? Your favorite part was the 10 story slide – were you actually able to go down it? Bet that would have been scary. Great reference to Circle of Life with the tree made of repurposed materials.


Nick September 21, 2012 at 4:18 pm

Thanks for the response. To be honest, the first feeling is of being overwhelmed. There is so much to see and do, you need to catch your breath. But when you have your bearings again, I would say joy. You feel like a kid in a building-sized fort that was built to last a lifetime. Hero was curious to explore every nook and cranny and it all paid off. Every space was designed to be engaged. One of the pictures above is of what Hero and I created at Art City- animal snowflakes, clay sculpture robots, animal puppets, crowns, masks, etc. Hero’s favorite part (most fun) was the 10 story slide. You CAN ride it and it is incredible. Apart from learning all the new crafting, the visit prompted us to learn about the man who came up with the place, Bob Cassilly. Just a great great time.


Eileen September 20, 2012 at 1:55 pm

Fabulous photo essay! It looks like a set from a movie really. Hero’s joy in her smile says it all.

Thank you for being Ang, Mike and Max’s family on the road, especially for being part of Max’s “village”


Maryann Murphy September 21, 2012 at 12:56 am

Thanks for creating one of the most stylish blogs I have come across in a long time! It’s truly incredible how much you are able to take away from something simply because of how aesthetically gorgeous it is.


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