Children's Illustrated Art Museum, Fun Family Attraction at Chesterfield Mall! | Kids Out and About St. Louis

Children's Illustrated Art Museum, Fun Family Attraction at Chesterfield Mall!


by Chelle Dohrmann

Let’s talk about the Children's Illustrated Art Museum. Wait… You’ve never heard of them? You’re not alone. This gem of a place just might be the best kept secret in the city, and it’s time for that to change!

What is it?

The Children's Illustrated Art Museum is a 501c3 non-profit, providing hands-on experiences that center around the work of children’s book artists and illustrators. Museum founder, Jeanne Johnston got started by wanting to create a journal for sick children using artwork from children’s illustrators. After the incredible response she received from artists, she realized that more could be done to share this work with the community, and the museum was born. “We wanted to share books and their artwork with children and create an environment where the children become a PART of the books” said Jeanne. The end result is a wonderfully interactive experience. Children can look through books and see framed artwork from artists on the walls, including Randal Spangler, Scott Gustafson, and local illustrator Mary Engelbreit, to name a few.  Thanks to the generosity of Home Depot, there is a 40-foot wooden train (four cars) that the children can climb inside to play and read; bookshelves are full and tables are available for the children to color their own pictures or write their own stories. Block play and more make this play area one difficult to leave!


One section of the museum is reserved exclusively for rotating exhibits.  This fall, this space housed All Aboard: Now and Then, an exhibit teaching children the history of trains and their role in helping to build and grow the country. While that exhibit has moved on, the train theme has not… a wonderful model holiday train beckons visitors to walk through the doors. Children and adults alike cannot take their eyes off of it!

Currently, visitors can see the newly opened Polar Express exhibit, an ambitious project like no other! Children of all ages will become wide-eyed as they literally walk through the pages of the book and bring the story to life. The Museum has collaborated with the Arnold Community Theatre Troupe to produce the Polar Express Experience, an interactive “immersion” play where the children participate and become a part of the story. Jeanne’s vision was that “this would not just be a play, but something to experience as a family to build holiday memories together.”

Performances are scheduled Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays through December 28th.   All children receive a snack, hot cocoa, and a gift at the end, along with a visit from Santa himself, once their “journey” reaches the North Pole! Photo opportunities will be available, so be sure to bring your camera! Click here for more information and how to purchase tickets.


The Museum is located on the upper level of Chesterfield Mall, near Macy’s. Children 10 and under would get the most out of the experience, but any child or adult will enjoy the “gallery-like” feel of the artwork scattered throughout. There is a nominal admission fee, and, as this is a non-profit, donations are accepted. Whether you want to bring just a child or two or If your playgroup is looking for a new spot, this is an ideal location to check out!