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Jul 2003 / the ordinary eye :: email this story to a friend

The City as Museum
By Gena M. Brady

"What's he building in there? With that hook light on the stairs.
What's he building in there... I'll tell you one thing, he's not building a playhouse for the children..."

(Tom Waits, What's He Building?, Mule Variations)

Wait a minute, yes he is.

Myk Miano, main metal man at the City Museum, took Brett Underwood and I into the belly of the whale one Sunday afternoon. With an undulating wall of escalator stairs and a cantilevered school bus, this is architecture as pure, spontaneous creation.

trial and error
inside out
twisted and tied up

respect and illumination of found objects and history
anything is possible
a place for everyone

City Museum is housed in the old International Shoe Co. building. Here, recognizing and investing in St. Louis and its rich architectural history doesn't stop with the shell of the building. The surreal juxtaposition of unrelated systems is created out of recycled materials from areas around St. Louis. One might say certain sections of the museum are reminiscent of Antonio Gaudi's Park Guell, an urban park in Barcelona, Spain. Originally intended as a "garden city," Gaudi's project was never fully completed. With something new always around the bend, "fully completed" doesn't seem to be a phrase that will make it into City Museum's vocabulary either. This is St. Louis' garden city where consideration is given to both the subject and its path, as well as the investigation of the object world.

Go explore mysterious passageways.
Go play hide and seek.
Go get lost and found.

[Click a thumbnail image below to pop up the large version.]


Gena Brady is a St. Louis photographer; her last piece for The Commonspace featured the Arsenal Street mental hospital.

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