By Matuschka Lindo Briggs, Public Affairs Staff
What would you say if your middle school child asked you, “What is an economy?”Not an easy question. Let’s see, we could say it is money and finance wrapped up into one. Every person impacts the economy in some way, and we are all affected by it. Or, you could start with the fundamental statement that economics is divided into microeconomics and macroeconomics:
But halfway through that explanation, your child would be fidgeting with their phone or actively backing away.
There is an easier way. The St. Louis Fed’s award-winning Inside the Economy® Museum is a hands-on, one-of-a-kind experience that explains the economy—and your role in it—in a fun and interactive way. It’s free. And it’s not just for kids: We invite you to touch screens, watch videos, play games and get a plethora of questions answered in nearly 100 exhibits brought to life in five different zones.
Zone 1 introduces you to the Eighth Federal Reserve District and what we do. The St. Louis Fed is one of 12 regional Reserve banks that, along with the Board of Governors in Washington, D.C., make up the United States' central bank, known as the Federal Reserve System.
This section shows you how people make decisions. Learn about:
Here, you have the opportunity to see how people interact with the economy.
See our Connections Theater with engaging videos and shorts for all ages. There are too many to name, but you can learn answers to questions like: Does the Fed print money? Is the Fed audited? Which denomination of bill lasts the longest? How many bills does it take to get to the top of the Gateway Arch?
It's all about you and the economy. Discover how major decisions about the economy ultimately affect you, and how your life would differ if you lived in another place.
No museum would be complete without a gift shop; ours is focused on money and economic education. Unique items include money soap bars filled with real money: once you wash, you could discover a $1, $5, $10, $20 or even $50 bill inside.
There also are shredded money souvenirs; in 2017 the St. Louis Fed shredded and composted more than 119,000 pounds of cash deemed no longer fit for circulation.
If we haven’t satisfied your economic curiosity, there are free publications for the more in-depth reader as well as children’s books with parent Q&As to help you discuss economic and personal finance concepts with your budding economist.
Add us to your “must” list for summer vacations or staycations. The economy museum opened in 2014 and is housed inside the historic St. Louis Fed, within walking distance of the newly renovated Gateway Arch grounds in downtown St. Louis. On average, it will take you a little over an hour to fully enjoy the self-guided tour.
Hours: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, excluding holidays.
Location: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis
One Federal Reserve Bank Plaza, Broadway and Locust streets
St. Louis, MO 63102