11 Quirky St. Louis Museums Worth Visiting

St. Louis has its fair share of world-class museums, but these 11 weird and wonderful museums are well worth a visit too.

City Museum

This is truly one of St. Louis’ most unique museums, and a kid’s paradise! Part playground, funhouse and art project, City Museum is housed in a 600,000 square-foot repurposed warehouse. Featuring four floors and a rooftop, attractions include a 10-story spiral slide, a “skateless” park, a museum of objects found in outhouses, pinball machines and a Ferris wheel. The greatest attraction of this museum is that is it never finished. Always under construction with new additions, you’ll find something different every time you come! Even adults will find something to love here, with the “City Museum After Dark” event series. These 21-plus events feature beer and mixed drinks, with “harmless mischief” encouraged. 


Miniature Museum of Greater St. Louis

This all-volunteer-run museum is dedicated to the art of the miniature. These are not the dollhouses you played with as a kid! See everything from a potter’s studio and a music room with a miniature harp and cello to a spooky haunted mansion with stained glass windows and skeletons. With two floors of miniatures of all kinds, a gift shop and a library, it is possible to spend hours in this museum exploring the intricately constructed worlds.


Jefferson Barracks Telephone Museum

This museum is housed in a building from 1896 that is on the National Register of Historic Places. Dedicated to all things telephone, find a collection of telephones from the 1900s-2000s, operator switchboards from the 1920s-60s, telephone memorabilia and replicas of Alexander Graham Bell’s first telephones. There are also hands-on and interactive displays and novelty phones (think phones shaped like dinosaurs, Pac-Man, Mickey Mouse, a sneaker and more). 


HealthWorks! Kids’ Museum

This museum makes the list for having the world’s largest fiberglass teeth. Clocking in at three feet tall and suspended from the ceiling at the entrance, these teeth are interactive, but you’ll have to visit the museum to figure out how! If you haven’t already guessed, this museum is dedicated to teaching kids about health, from interactive dental and medical office replicas, to a mock pharmacy and farmers market, and “Grossology” exhibit dedicated to the sounds and smells of the body. Did we forget to mention there’s also a 55-foot long, 25-foot wide, 8-foot tall human skeleton structure that doubles as a playground? 


SaxQuest Museum

Located on the second floor of the SaxQuest shop, this museum is dedicated to—you guessed it—saxophones. You’ll find a collection of rare and historically significant saxophones, from a fully restored quartet of pre-civil war Adolphe Sax saxophones (Adolphe Sax invented the saxophone in 1846) to the “Conn-O-Sax”—a strange and unsuccessful invention meant to replace an orchestra’s English horn with a saxophone. From the absurdly large contra bass saxophone to the absurdly small sopranissimo saxophone, you’ll learn everything you didn’t know you didn’t know about saxophones here. 


Curiosity Museum

Formerly known as the Historic Museum of Torture Devices, the Curiosity Museum in Alton, IL now displays oddities, bizarre art, quack medical devices and illusions alongside said torture devices. The 80-plus exhibits range from an Eastern European vampire killing kit and a plaster cast of a bigfoot footprint to a “Wheel of Death” and ghost hunting devices. Due to the nature of these exhibits, this museum is 18-plus. Cash only. A bonus? Alton, IL claims to be the most haunted town in America and the Curiosity Museum is located in one of the most haunted buildings in town—the old Mineral Springs hotel, now the Mineral Springs Mall. 


National Horseshoe Pitchers Hall of Fame & Museum

This is a 21,000-square-foot museum dedicated to sport of horseshoe pitching—yes, horseshoe pitching. Inside you’ll find trophies, lucky horseshoes, videos of the greatest pitches in history and other horseshoe pitching regalia dating back to the 1800s, plus the Hall of Fame which pays homage to the 174 Hall of Fame inductees. Located inside the Quail Ridge Horseshoe Club, the facilities also house 16 indoor and 16 outdoor horseshoe pitching courts. ​


Grace’s Place

On the campus of the University of Missouri—St Louis, discover the history of computers and information technology at Grace's Place. Named in memory of computing pioneer and Naval office Dr. Grace Murray Hopper, see early tubes and analog computers, individual components of disassembled computers and interesting artifacts. Discover the evolution of computing and marvel at how far it has come. 


Laumeier Sculpture Park & Museum

Perhaps one of the more well-known attractions on this list, Laumeier Sculpture Park is worth visiting if only to see the giant 7-foot-tall “Eye” sculpture by Tony Tasset. Composed of 60 large-scale outdoor sculptures across a 105-acre park, Laumeier represents a unique way to experience art beyond the traditional art museum experience. Other interesting works include a 12-foot tall deer, a concrete mixer turned sundial and a series of interactive sculptures exploring how dogs experience the world. Notable artists include Sol LeWitt, Richard Hunt and Ernest Trova. Laumeier also hosts a wide range of events including ceramics classes, family workshops, free family days, makers nights and the adults-only Night Out series.


Weldon Spring Site & Interpretive Center

Visit the highest publicly accessible point in St. Charles county for a—perhaps, perilous—look back on the history of weapons manufacturing. This site was home to the largest explosives factory in the US during World War II and later it was used to process Uranium ore. It then sat abandoned for 20 years and the improperly-disposed waste from these activities (think mercury, asbestos, TNT, and radioactive uranium and radium) led to widespread contamination of the area. Now as a part of cleanup efforts, this waste is buried in a 41-acre, 75-foot high “disposal cell” which you can hike along a half-mile round-trip path. The site also sports a 150-acre native prairie, a trailhead to the 8-mile Hamburg trail and outdoor picnic areas. At the interpretive center, learn about the “lost” towns of Howell, Hamburg and Toonerville as well as the cleanup efforts. And don’t worry, they say the site is perfectly safe now. 


The National Museum of Transportation

With more than 190 major exhibits, this museum houses the largest collection of transportation vehicles in the world. The collection includes a staggering amount of historic rail and auto vehicles as well as aircraft and boats and spans 15 decades of transportation history. Ride an historic trolley or a mini train during your visit, and children can enjoy hand-powered cars and the hands-on Creation Station. 

Emily Sisco
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