Coloring STL at the Missouri History Museum is a unique interactive exhibit that invites visitors to explore the architectural past and present of the St. Louis area by coloring more than 50 local structures – from iconic downtown landmarks to local homes, passing by the buildings now erased from the landscape to the treasures of the district. But filling the cityscape with a kaleidoscope of dry-erase marker color isn’t all visitors will have to do. Visitors will experience more than 50 fascinating artifacts from real St. Louis buildings up close and learn about the dreamers and designers who used the materials beneath our feet to leave their mark on the city. The exhibition opens in August 2022.
“Since the city’s founding in 1764, the St. Louis area has been rich in architectural history, with beautiful, bizarre, and fascinating structures of all eras, shapes, and sizes dotting its landscape,” said Andrew Wanko, public historian and content manager. on the Coloring STL exposure. “It doesn’t matter whether they’re big or small, famous landmarks or your home – countless buildings in St. Louis have fascinating stories to tell.”
Among the more than 50 colorable iconic local structures is a timeline of residential buildings. While coloring, visitors can read brief facts about the different types of structures that locals lived in, ranging from longhouses in Illinois around 1700 to popular Second Empire French townhouses in Lafayette Square, passing through the ca. 1890s popular urban townhouses in Soulard, Old North, Hyde Park and Benton Park, to the shotgun-style houses found on the Hill, in the suburbs, and more.
“Stained glass is a staple of many St. Louis homes,” Wanko said. “One aspect of Coloring STL that we anticipate visitors will enjoy is the story of how stained glass grew in popularity and how it was made right here in St. Louis. Visitors can leaf through a catalog of stained glass and the sketchbook of Emil Frei, one of the most important stained glass artisans to ever call St. Louis home.
Other interactive elements in Coloring STL include toggle panels that test visitors’ general architectural knowledge or ask visitors to correctly identify which building from another country inspired a local structure. A slideshow titled “St. Louis of Yesterday” shows 50 images that offer incredible views of St. Louis’ past, with some very familiar streetscapes and some completely unrecognizable. Tactile elements include an architect’s sliding flat file drawer that holds graphic reproductions of St. Louis construction drawings, with tactile raised lines for accessibility. Other tangible elements include real St. Louis building materials – 8 different varieties of locally made bricks, an iron “tie star” like those seen on the walls of historic St. Louis homes, and one of millions of granite cobblestones once used to pave the streets of Saint-Louis.