The simple definition of museum is a building in which interesting and valuable things (such as paintings and sculptures or scientific and historical objects) are collected and shown to the public. I did say that was the “simple definition.” Museums come in all shapes and sizes, with different collections and focus, but one thing is common, they are a place of exploration and discovery.
As the weather gets warmer and you’re looking for a quick spring getaway, look no further than St. Charles Missouri! “Historically Awesome” since 1769, St. Charles is a walkable museum featuring unique shops, services, restaurants and pubs. Strolling from South Main to North Main and then over to Frenchtown, the architecture takes you from the 1700s to the early 1900s and includes stops like Stone Row, San Carlos Borromeo Church and the First Missouri State Capitol State Historic Site.
If you would like to include more traditional museums as part of your Discovery Tour, start at the Lewis & Clark Boat House and Nature Center. This museum brings to life the Lewis and Clark Expedition, Native American displays and various Missouri River habitats. It is also home to “Missouri River Walk,” the largest indoor mural in the state. Outside the museum, along the banks of the Missouri River, you will find several habitats featuring plants native to Missouri at the time of Lewis & Clark. If you time it right you might find ducks, geese, heron, deer and other wildlife as they visit the nearby woods, river and wetlands.
If you’re looking for a dose of fine art, stop by the Foundry Art Centre, the bridge between Historic Main Street and Frenchtown. The Foundry resides in what was once a train car factory; a 1940s structure now home to the region’s premier, interactive, interdisciplinary art center. With 5,200 square feet of state-of-the-art exhibition space to house national exhibitions, special touring exhibitions, curated exhibits and juried competitions, the Foundry is a vibrant home to the arts. On the mezzanine level of the building visitors can interact with studio artists representing a variety of media, including oil painting, printmaking, wheel-thrown ceramics, sculpture and watercolor. From March 18 to April 29 the show Impact will be featured in the main gallery. Impact explores the motivations of the artist to create – when asked “What inspires you?” – Impact will supply the answer.
For unique St. Charles and Frenchtown memorabilia don’t miss the Frenchtown Heritage Museum and Research Center. Originally a firehouse built in 1880, the museum was the recipient of the 2006 Historic Restoration and Architectural Design Award. The collection features Evidence of Life, the legacy of Frenchtown’s own historian, the late Richard Vinson. In addition, there are the Archelpohl, Ell, McKee-McAdam and Lindenwood collections. The museum also has the largest collection of late 19th and early 20th century African-American studio photographs in the area.
If a revving 351 Windsor V8 gets your heart racing or a 1935 Studebaker Street Rod makes you weak in the knees, then add Fast Lane Classic Cars to your museum itinerary. Technically, Fast Lane is an auto dealership, but even if you’re not in the market for a choice 1967 Dodge Dart, do yourself a favor and visit anyway because admission to this museum-quality showroom and vintage collector’s paradise is free. With his great affection for all things vintage, owner David Williams is a collector of automotive and other memorabilia of all sorts. Whether it’s an antique oak bar once visited by Al Capone, vintage pedal cars, gas pumps, neon signs, or banana seat bicycles, there’s something classic to enjoy almost everywhere you turn.
As you discover what St. Charles has to offer, may you, like earlier visitors and settlers, find those threads which pull us back in time and create a tapestry of people, places, and events which you can make your own.
To discover all there is to do and see in Saint Charles, visit us online at HistoricStCharles.com. Follow us on Facebook at Greater Saint Charles Convention & Visitors Bureau, on Twitter at @DiscoverStC and on the Discover St. Charles Youtube channel.