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Exploring: Missouri History Museum’s New History Clubhouse

2014 April 6
by Becky

Missouri History Museum History Clubhouse - Entrance

We couldn’t WAIT to check out the Missouri History Museum’s newest addition, the “History Clubhouse“. Freshly launched March 29th, we quickly gathered some of our favorite play-date friends and hustled on over for a morning of fun.

My high expectations were far exceeded. Our kids had a total blast. While it’s hard to snap enough (good) pictures while interacting with Ethan and chatting with friends, I tried my darndest to capture the space in order to share it’s awesomeness.

Missouri History Museum History Clubhouse - Center

So how does a museum go about entertaining little kids? A bright colorful space, building materials, a market, faux camp fire, dress-up clothes, thatch hut, craft areas, and lots of space to roam around quickly (but never run…that’s not polite in a museum). 

So how do all these things relate to Missouri’s history?

Missouri History Museum History Clubhouse - Blueprints

Missouri History Museum History Clubhouse - Wainwright

Well the big beautiful blueprint murals depict some of St. Louis’s beautiful landmarks. Such as the downtown skyline surrounding the “building zone,” a place where kids can help complete the famous Wainwright building (one of the first sky-scrapers in the world) or build with a plethora of supplies. Kids can dress up in hard hats, reflective vests, and goggles too.

Ethan couldn’t wait to have at those neatly piled blocks…he was a blur of activity.

Missouri History Museum History Clubhouse - Dress up

He of course chose to skip the safety gear…my kid is not a dresser-upper. But plenty of little dudes got a kick out of the station (which, by the time I snapped this picture, had been ransacked, hard).

Another popular St. Louis landmark, the Soulard Market, was laid out for shopping fun. Cash registers were put to constant use while other kids pushed carts filled with their produce selections. Even the littlest of visitors could enjoy playing with the heaps of fruits and veggies.

Missouri History Museum History Clubhouse - Soulard Market

The story of Cahokia Mounds covered an entire side of the space. A St. Louis landmark I’m not as familiar with, the Cahokia Mound  are quite  impressive human-made earth mounds located on the site of an ancient Native American city. The story is told through a traditional dwelling, activity table, and campfire site.

Missouri History Museum History Clubhouse - Cahokia Mounds

It made me want to drive across the Mississippi and visit the state historic site, something that’s on our St. Louis bucket list for sure. Ethan thought it was hilarious to “cook” an inflatable turkey on the campfire…its’ the first thing he did upon arrival. “Mom, want some turkey?!” I must say, it was delicious.

Since we visited on a Friday, the kids were invited to participate in the 10:30am story time. Except instead of sitting in the gallery across the hall, the Clubhouse has it’s own awesome story and craft space. Little stools and mats were set out for the future history buffs to lounge while being read a series of books—this day they were all about ducks.

Missouri History Museum History Clubhouse - Story Time

Plenty of places for parents to sit made for quite the nice experience. And if when kids got distracted or antsy, we just took them back out to the play space to leave the story-timers in some peace and quiet. After stories some kids stayed to make duck-themed crafts while others stayed to play with the toys and puzzles stashed in this room. Ethan found his own little story time spot…

Missouri History Museum History Clubhouse - Pod

If I bought him one of these pods for home, he’d never use it. But here? THE BOMB. All he needs is someone fanning him with a giant palm leaf… My favorite part about the Clubhouse? The SPACE. Plenty of room for kids to play and explore without being confined, open enough that parents can keep an eye one their children from pretty much anywhere in the room.

Missouri History Museum History Clubhouse

Another very cool part of this exhibit is the museum’s request for feedback. All over the space there are places to leave feedback—the museum wants to know what we love and what we think needs to be tweaked.  Right now it’s a little of trial and error, which means we all need to get out and use this space NOW so we can provide this feedback and help shape what will be the permanent History Clubhouse in 2015.

I’m thinking they are off to a pretty darn good start. My only suggestion so far was coat hooks.

When lunch time approached, we dragged our kids out of the room and out the door for the short walk to the Forest Park visitor’s center. We picnicked inside, sheltered from the severely chilly and blowing wind, and had planned to hit the awesome playground next door if the sun would’ve just shown it’s face for a little warmth. We’re clearly making summer plans when Spring has barely sprung. Even with the playground play nixed, Ethan was exhausted after our super fun morning and can’t wait to go back. The History Clubhouse is just adding to the list of incredible “discovery” play spaces in St. Louis! It ranks right up there with the Zoo’s Wild Wonder Outpost and the Science Center’s Discovery Room. It reminded me of the Building Zone at the Building Museum in DC…these institutions are really nailing this family-friendly thing.

Oh and the cost? Free. 

The whole museum is free, every day, all the time. The Clubhouse is open during regular museum hours but will have special events happening on the next four weekends to learn about the spaces included in the exhibit. There’s a World’s Fair theme weekend I think we’ll hit up for sure, it includes ice cream and carriage rides! Go to this link for more info on dates/times/themes.

And don’t forget to take a walk around the rest of the museum which can be quite engaging for even the little ones. Planes suspended from ceilings, images of the World’s Fair, and plenty of interesting stuff parents will love and kids can muscle through for a limited amount of time.

Have you checked out the History Clubhouse? What did you think? What’s your favorite family-friendly museum? 

5 Responses
  1. April 7, 2014

    Super fun space!!! Some good ideas for our Children’s Museum here in Scotttsbluff. I’ll forward it on. Thanks

  2. Lauren G permalink
    April 10, 2014

    Chalking this post up to another one of the fun places I can’t wait to take my niece when she gets a wee bit bigger! I’d never think the History Museum would look this fun.

  3. June 27, 2014

    Thank you for posting pictures!! I couldn’t find any anywhere online until I stumbled upon your blog. We were debating taking our 15 month old Hazel this weekend, and these confirmed for me that I’m sure she’ll love it. Thanks!
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    • Becky permalink*
      June 29, 2014

      I hope you went to the History Museum Club House and loved it!! We will be there to escape the heat this week…it is fun for all ages!

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