Mitch and I recently visited the Magic House in Kirkwood and the upstart Myseum over in Chesterfield, both on holiday Mondays.
First, if you want to go to either, maybe a holiday isn’t such a good idea. The crowd at Myseum wasn’t as annoying–maybe because older kids are better at taking turns and don’t just elbow you out of the way like the 3-yr-olds who were swarming the Magic House.
Myseum is cool for older kids, by which I mean kids over 5 up to maybe 10 or 12. There’s a jump house and this crazy sea of pool noodles (you have to go look at it) and a maze that I wouldn’t let my kindergartener go into because neither of us like getting lost in the dark.
The good old Magic House still has some tricks up it’s sleeve for the big kids, but my oldest got bored with it around 4th grade. Though there are science and mystery displays perfect for older kids to study, it’s hard to enjoy it when a toddler is next to you just slamming all the buttons with his grubby little fingers. This may explain why so many exhibits are always broken at the Magic House.
Here’s our take on which children’t museum is best for your kids:
Location: The Magic House is in Kirkwood, off Lindbergh. Myseum is in Town and Country in the Lamp & Lantern plaza (near the Melting Pot). Both are pretty easy to get to and near major highways.
Price: The Magic House charges $9.50 per person. Myseum charges $10.95 for kids up to 17 but adults are only $5.95. This makes Myseum slighter cheaper, however coupons for half off one child are easy to find for the Magic House, which evens up the score. (Both admit infants under one for free.)
Size: The Magic House is much bigger! It’s 50,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor fun. The Magic House says you need at least four hours to see everything. You will be exhausted if you try to see everything here.
Myseum is smaller and occupies a single level—still, it’s listed at 20,000 square feet! For comparison, 20,000 square feet is the size of the Magic House’s 2005 expansion. You’ll still need a couple hours to explore.
Age Range: The Magic House has something for everyone if you poke around, but the group that flocks to it is definitely in the pre-school to second grade area. My oldest son felt like he was getting too big for the House around ten. A LOT of stroller moms visit the House with their tiny tikes and a section–the Little Bit of Magic–is just for pre-schoolers.
Myseum is more suited for kids over 5, but still tops out around 12 in my opinion. It’s not a good place for pre-school kids–not many exhibits are suitable or understandable for little kids.
What’s the same? Both attractions are educational and fun with hands-on experiments. Both have science and music areas, a giant slide and a shadow wall (which captures your shadow on a light sensitive surface). Both encourage imaginative play. Both require an adult to wander around with the child to explain how experiments work.
What’s the big difference? The Magic House has large scale make-believe areas, like an entire pint-size village and a replica of the Oval Office. It hosts traveling exhibits both indoors and outdoors. A special area is set aside for toddlers and pre-schoolers.
Myseum has a few things the Magic House doesn’t have, like giant Lego-type blocks, a bounce house, maze, dinosaur dig area, and a “sea” of pool noodles suspended from the ceiling that kids plow through. Myseum also has a veterinarian office with stuffed animals as patients.
Food: The Magic House has the Picnic Basket Café and the Myseum has a soda cooler and snack bar with candy. However, Myseum will stamp your hand and allow you to leave to eat somewhere else and come back for more fun. The Magic House will let you back in if you keep your admission sticker on!
It’s this mom’s opinion that the Magic House is better for little ones, especially toddlers and preschoolers. Myseum is a better fit for kids older kids and no fun at all for little ones. Kids in the middle, around five to eight, will enjoy either one.