This will be a year of construction for many of our fun institutions. If work hasn’t started already at one (the new 17-acre nature playscape in Forest Park; the primate habitat at the St. Louis Zoo), it will soon begin at others (the new visitor center at the Missouri Botanical Garden). As always, look for changing exhibits — but watch out for construction barriers.
City Museum • City Museum, which in 2019 was sold to Oklahoma City-based Premier Parks LLC, has a busy year ahead: In June, the downtown west attraction unveils a 6,000-square-foot maze hidden on the fourth floor, which can be accessed using a secret staircase. The rooftop party series for grown-ups, City Nights, returns in May and runs through mid-August. And in October, City Museum adds a miniature golf course in partnership with Elmhurst Art Museum of Illinois and the digital art publication Colossal.
St. Louis Zoo • Keepers will be on baby watch in the first half of 2020: One of the zoo's Asian elephants, Rani, is due to give birth in the summer. The last elephant born at the zoo was Priya, in April 2013. Construction is underway on Primate Canopy Trails, which is scheduled to open in 2021. The $11.5 million expansion, next to the Primate House, will allow about 45 monkeys and lemurs to venture outside and into the trees, and visitors will be able to access boardwalks to get a closer view.
Missouri History Museum • To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote, the museum opens “Beyond the Ballot” on April 4. The exhibit will focus on women’s roles before 1920 and how the women's suffrage movement happened. An exhibit created by the museum’s Teens Make History program, “What’s in a Name?,” opens in February and explores the nicknames given to St. Louis throughout history.
St. Louis Science Center • “Da Vinci: The Exhibition” includes more than 60 life-size replicas of the Renaissance master’s inventions and more than 20 re-creations of his paintings and fine art studies. The 7,000-square-foot traveling exhibition runs Jan. 11-April 19. Also, expect to see more feature-length films in the newly renovated Omnimax Theater, one of four Imax Dome With Laser theaters in the world. “Apollo 11: First Steps Edition” opens Feb. 14, “Dinosaurs of Antarctica” on May 8, “Wonder Woman 1984” on June 5 and “Top Gun: Maverick” on June 26.
Missouri Botanical Garden • Officials will break ground this month for a $92 million visitor center, set to open in spring 2022. The Missouri Botanical Garden remains open during construction, and several special events are planned: “Origami in the Garden,” an outdoor sculpture exhibit by Santa Fe artists Jennifer and Kevin Box, comes to the garden for spring and summer. Large-scale metal sculptures replicating the Japanese paper art form will be placed throughout the garden. The installation will open April 25 for Chinese Culture Days weekend. And in time to help with the winter blues, "Tiki in the Tropics" comes Jan. 18 to the Climatron.
Editor's note: a previous version of this story had the wrong location of the Elmhurst Art Museum.