Continuing with our things to do over the summer in St Louis, up next is The Magic House.
The Magic House, St. Louis Children’s Museum, opened to the public on October 16, 1979 in a quaint 5,500 square foot Victorian mansion located in the demographic center of the St. Louis region. Founded by two volunteers, Barbie Freud and Jody Newman, the not-for-profit museum was created as the first totally participatory museum designed just for children. The founders were guided by the Chinese proverb:
I hear and I forget.
I see and I remember.
I do and I understand.
Over the years, The Magic House has grown from a small local museum to one of national prominence. Having undergone several major expansions, the Museum now houses 55,000 square feet of exhibits and serves over 550,000 visitors annually. The Museum’s hands-on exhibits and educational programming have been recognized nationally by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, Orbitz, Nickelodeon, Family Fun Magazine and Zagat, which named The Magic House the nation’s top family attraction with the most child appeal. Locally the Museum has received the What’s Right with the Region Award, the RCGA’s Top 50 Award, the Better Business Bureau Torch Award and many more.
Mission and History
Throughout its history, education has been at the core of The Magic House’s mission. Over 50,000 children visit the museum each year for curriculum-enriching field trip experiences that support classroom learning and meet state and national standards. An additional 25,000 children participate in the museum’s outreach programs that take place in area classrooms, libraries and hospitals. The Museum is dedicated to inclusion and serving those children in the St. Louis community who have the fewest opportunities.
Unlike most cultural attractions in the St. Louis area, The Magic House was founded as and remains a self-supporting 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization. It receives no ongoing local, state or federal support and is not a member of the Zoo-Museum District or the United Way.
One of my favorite things about The Magic House is that everything is very hands on. And you are not limited to just a certain type of play. They have ever thing from the dirt area which is actually made of shredded, recycled tires, to entire villages devoted to nothing but play.
The Children’s Village is always a huge draw and features a vet with all types of animals that your child can examine, bathe, and even play with. They can feed and weigh babies in the nursery. Stock shelves or shop at the grocery store. Visit the local bank and even eat, or cook and serve food in the restaurant.
The Star Spangled Center gives a peek into our government. Children can give a speech from behind the Presidential podium, raise the flag, vote in a real working voting booth and even sit behind the desk in the Oval Office.
If you need a break from exploring, you can even stop in the Picnic Basket Cafe and have a bite to eat. Healthy choices include chicken noodle soup, soy butter and jelly and a variety of sandwiches and salads.
Hands down one of the best rooms or areas in The Magic House is the water room. Grab your waterproof smock and have a blast playing in the water. Watch the ducks float all around, use the buckets to sprinkle water, build a damn, and even pump water through a pipeline. This is the one spot that I have to pry the kids away from. They would spend the entire day in just this one area.
If you do visit The Magic House I recommend bypassing all the exhibits and making your way downstairs to the art studio first. Here children can paint a picture, build a sculpture with paper, feathers, and other decorations, and make just about anything they can dream up. Staff is always around to help and will mark each piece of art work with your child’s name so you can leave it to dry and come back at the end of the day and take your masterpiece home with you.
The Magic House is located at 516 S. Kirkwood Rd. St. Louis, MO 63122. And admission is $9.50 for ages 1 and above.