The City Museum is positively Whitmanesque: It's large; it contains multitudes. Consider the radically varied "Bests" it has merited over the years: "Best Kids' Thrill," "Best Place to Take Out-of-Town-Guests," "Best Place to Slip an Out-of-Towner Some Acid," "Best Place to Take a Cynical Out-of-Towner," "Best Place for a Last Date," "Best Place to Play Pinball." Call it a mere museum, and you might incite an argument — but, hell, this place can do whatever it pleases. The consummate and utterly singular vision of the late artist Bob Cassilly — his architectural "Song of Myself" — the City Museum is perhaps one of the most bombastic, hallucinatory, imaginative, ambitious, bizarre, dangerous and rapturous artworks out there, let alone here, in Cassilly's native city. In this regard it's museum-worthy, in the most honorable and expansive sense of the term. A cement cave system, an urban aquarium, a floating carnival, a thrift store, a nougat museum, a building salvage emporium, a juke joint, a pizza parlor, a wedding venue, a memory machine, a factory-scaled mosaic, a ten-story slide, a skateboarder's paradise, a rabid collector's fever dream, a child's daydream, a screaming acoustical nightmare, a place for an adult to get a necessary dose of knee bruises and elbow scrapes; the Best use of stainless-steel buffet trays; the most revelatory self-reflexive trip to nowhere. "Do I contradict myself?" it exuberantly and maniacally teases. "Very well then, I contradict myself!"
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