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The Most Dangerous Children's Museum in the United States

This weekend, The Wall Street Journal ran a feature about The City Museum in St. Louis, a place that sounds like the most fun children’s museum in the United States and potentially the most perilous as well.

The museum attracts approximately 700,000 paying guests each year, making it one of the most popular spots in the Midwestern city. “A cross between a playground and theme park,” it takes the detritus of St. Louis’ factory town past and combines them with the sculptures of its artist owner to create interactive exhibits where ‘just about everything can be touched or climbed.” Among the 600,000 square foot for-profit museum’s attractions: a three-story slide, a five-story jungle gym and a walk-through whale.

Unfortunately, the interactive experience with the St. Louis industrial era has also led to many factory worker like injuries among the museum’s visitors, including skull fractures, broken bones and lost digits. Not surprisingly, the museum has attracted its share of lawyers seeking damages on behalf of injured patrons, so many that the owner has gone on the offensive, placing video cameras throughout the museum/playground and taking to his website to spew about “frivolous lawsuits.”

Aside from the lawsuits, the museum seems to have received very little attention from would be nanny-state types seeking to close its doors. Commentators on Yelp seem to love the place, with the main gripe being that the presence of so many of those darn children! As for the injury rate, more than one commentator recommended kneepads. Others said the fun made the aches and pains worth it. “Three days later and these bumps still hurt,’ read one typical five-star review.

Me, I would have liked to have seen a comparison to the accident rates at amusement parks in The Wall Street Journal article.  After all, Disneyland isn’t exactly known as a bastion of safety either, with a number of deaths and injuries reported at the famed park over the years. And, also, they forgot to ask Lenore Skenazy what she thinks.

So what about you? If you live nearby, have you taken your children to the City Museum? What did you think? And for the rest of you, would you visit if you happened to be in St. Louis? Why or why not?

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