An Open Letter to City Museum of St. Louis


I should apologize for that headline. Open letters are almost invariably used by cranky a-holes trying to up their own profile by taking a shot at an organization, and its people, in the least productive but most self-aggrandizing and attention-grubbing way. So let me provide a bit of comfort: I’m not a cranky a-hole. And I’m not trying to complain, or make your lives worse in any way. I’m a bit of a kook, I guess, and actually, the idea I’m going to propose could raise all sorts of annoyances, so I guess that could make your lives worse in a way, but it’s in the service of trying to create something cool, which I think you might appreciate.

Here it is: I want City Museum to be an obstacle course race venue.

Let me back up a bit for people who haven’t experienced City Museum. It’s basically an obstacle course in museum form. I mean that well. It occupies a 10-story former shoe factory, and it consists largely of… stuff. Some of it is stuff to look at, weird and wonderful and bizarre things like Sumo Bobby or the Old Woman Who Lives in a Shoe and Doesn’t Understand Birth Control. (Seriously, it’s not that complicated!)

Sumo Wrestler statue at City Museum

Old Woman who Lives in a Shoe statue at City Museum

The vast majority of the museum, however, is weird and wonderful and bizarre stuff to climb on, crawl through, slide down, and generally get lost in. It’s a bit tough to explain, but the existence of this sign sort of tells you what you’re dealing with.

Access to the enchanted caves sign

Now, City Museum, I can already hear you telling me all the problems with the plan. Racing through a museum, and especially a museum like this, kind of defeats the purpose. The physical spaces aren’t really conducive to a race, being as how a lot of them are about 90% of an adult’s size. Trying to negotiate spaces like that at speed would almost undoubtedly lead to injuries, and lawsuits and injury lawsuits and even a few lawsuit injuries.

And you’re 100% correct.

But the heart wants what the heart wants, and I still want a City Museum race to happen. Cool race venues are cool, and this would be one of the coolest.

No, I don’t know how the logistics would work out. You’d probably have to close the museum while you set the course and run the race, and you’d need to spread out a lot—basically there would be one-person heats, with a surprising amount of time between, since there’s a lot of lengthy sections where absolutely no passing would be remotely possible. Or maybe there wouldn’t be a course but you have to hit checkpoints in order (at distant points within the museum) and however you get to them is OK—though that would give a huge home-field advantage to people who are familiar with the glorious confusion that is the museum.

Happily, this is an open letter, so I don’t need to worry about stuff like practicality or anything like that. Just do it. I demand it!

(And if you haven’t been, and you can: go. It’s really cool in ways you won’t see coming.)


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Filed under Commentary, Funny, Obstacle Course Racing

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