Want to learn something new while basking in air-conditioned comfort? Visit one of the area’s dozens of museums. Old favorites usually have new exhibits to explore or often host special evening events. You can also check out some of the smaller museums that may have fallen off your radar.
By Valerie Schremp Hahn, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Field House Museum
This classic St. Louis house and toy museum added a 4,000-square-foot expansion in 2016. Through June, see “From Caricature to Celebration: A Brief History of African-American Dolls,” and coming in August, see “Let’s Play Ball! Historic Games of America’s Favorite Pastime.” The museum was the home of author Eugene Field and his father, Roswell Field, who was an attorney on the Dred Scott case.
When 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, noon-4 p.m. Sunday • Where 634 South Broadway • How much $10 for adults, $5 for children 7-16, free for children 6 and under • More info 314-421-4689; fieldhousemuseum.org
Gateway Arch Museum
After extensive renovations, the museum beneath the iconic monument reopens July 3. Meanwhile, you can still take a tram ride to the top of the Arch and peek through one of 32 windows for a panoramic view of downtown and the Metro East. Be sure to check out the updates to the Arch grounds and Kiener Plaza, just west of the Old Courthouse. Or take a helicopter tour or riverboat cruise to get a whole new perspective.
When 8 a.m.-10 p.m. daily • Where Gateway Arch National Park, St. Louis riverfront • How much Museum admission is free; tram rides are $10-$13 • More infogatewayarch.com
The Magic House
Through June 24, kids can dig through truckloads of sand at “Sandcastle Beach,” located behind the museum. The popular, interactive “Forts and Clubhouses” display returns May 26 and runs through Sept. 3. A new exhibit, “Kenya’s Kids,” opens June 11. Catch the Magic House’s Grooving in the Garden music series on select Friday nights, the visiting artist series on select Saturdays and other special events, such as free family nights every third Friday.
When 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday and Saturday, 9:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Sunday, Memorial Day through Labor Day • Where 516 South Kirkwood Road, Kirkwood • How much $11 for ages 1 and older • More info 314-822-8900; magichouse.org
Missouri History Museum
If you want to wow the kids with some giant pictures and play “I spy” while you’re at it, check out “Panoramas of the City,” an exhibit featuring blown-up panoramic photos with accompanying objects and interactive displays. Let the kids play at the museum’s History Clubhouse, explore permanent exhibits dedicated to St. Louis history and the 1904 World’s Fair, and take home a smart souvenir from the gift shop.
When 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday-Monday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Tuesday • Where 5700 Lindell Boulevard, Forest Park • How much Free • More info 314-746-4599; mohistory.org
Museum of Transportation
Trains, trolleys, airplanes and cars: If it has wheels, you can bet that it’s represented with a cool artifact at the Museum of Transportation. This museum is a treat for adults and kids, who can ride a miniature train or hand-pedal a car through a miniature village. See the “All Ford Cruise In” show June 16 and “Cars With Class” on Father’s Day, June 17.
When 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday • Where 3015 Barrett Station Road • How much $10, $5 for children age 3-12; fees for rides and Creation Station • More info 314-965-6212; transportmuseumassociation.org
National Blues Museum
The National Blues Museum continues to bring in new exhibits and acts with occasional live performances. A special exhibit of portraits on tin tile, “Expressions of the Blues by Carol Boss,” will be on view June 2 through Sept. 29.
When 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, noon-5 p.m. Sunday-Monday • Where 615 Washington Avenue • How much $15, $12 for seniors, $10 for children ages 5-17 • More info 314-925-0016; nationalbluesmuseum.org
The courthouse, built between 1839 and 1862, is best known as the place where Dred Scott fought for freedom from slavery and where Virginia Minor fought for women’s right to vote. Take a peek inside its restored courtrooms, and climb the many stairs to get a closer look at the rotunda’s architecture. While there, check out the renovated Gateway Arch grounds and Kiener Plaza, where a bronze sculpture of lawyer and civil rights activist Frankie Muse Freeman was dedicated in November.
When 7:30 a.m.-8 p.m. daily • Where 11 North Fourth Street • How much Free • More infogatewayarch.com
St. Louis Science Center
“Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission” continues until Sept. 3. The traveling Smithsonian exhibit features the space capsule Columbia as well as Buzz Aldrin’s helmet and gloves worn during the historic moon landing. The exhibit also includes a fun look at St. Louis’ contribution to the space race. When you’ve come down to earth, explore with the kids in the Discovery Room, or catch a show in the Omnimax theater or James S. McDonnell Planetarium.
When 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday; 11 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Sunday (summer hours begin May 26; open until 8 p.m. on Thursdays, June 7-Aug. 9, for Science at Sunset) • Where 5050 Oakland Avenue • How much Free admission; fees for some exhibitions and planetarium and Omnimax shows • More info 314-289-4400; slsc.org
World Chess Hall of Fame
These chess people aren’t playing around — in April, they reclaimed their title as the home of the world’s largest chess piece with the outdoor installation of a 20-foot king. Inside, learn about one of the world’s largest games via displays and special exhibitions. Continuing through summer: “Painted Pieces: Art Chess From Purling London,” “The Staunton Standard: Evolution of the Modern Chess Set” and “The Sinquefield Effect: The Resurgence of American Chess.”
When 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Saturday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Wednesday-Friday, noon-5 p.m. Sunday • Where 4652 Maryland Avenue • How much Free, suggested donation of $3 per person or $5 per family • More info 314-367-9243; worldchesshof.org
18 more museums to visit
Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site • 30 Ramey Street, Collinsville; 618-346-5160, cahokiamounds.org