"Murals and realistic scenery, computer-generated visual effects, over fifty exotic animals, life-sized people and dinosaur animatronics, and a special-effects theater complete with misty sea breezes and rumbling seats." That's what the brand-new $27 million Creation Museum at 2800 Bullittsburg Church Road in Petersburg, Kentucky, promises... and what it delivers!
Like the more than 100,000 folks (so far) who have visited the Creation Museum since its May 28 opening, we couldn't wait to tour the 60,000 square feet of fascinating exhibits. Here is a small taste of what it is like to visit the museum, which has taken over 10 years to plan and build. Hopefully, it will whet your appetite enough to draw you out to Kentucky for your own visit.
First, a word on what you will not find at the Creation Museum. You will not find an esoteric, technical contrast of evolutionary and creationist scientific research. There's no need. The Answers in Genesis (AiG) folks have always argued (and it's true!) that the difference between evolutionists and creationists is a matter of framework. Scientists take the same facts and fit them as best as they can into their framework of choice. The deciding point, then, is which framework best fits all the facts of life. In the museum, AiG asks the tough cultural questions for which evolution has no answers and shows how they fit alongside science into the Biblical creationist worldview.
As you enter past the ticket counter you come first upon an open area with entrances to the museum restaurant and bookstore. This is also where people line up for the planetarium and for the first theater. Pleasant men and women in yellow t-shirts and khaki, safari-style vests stand ready to guide you and collect tickets.
I visited on a weekday, when most young and middle-aged adults are at work. That's probably why the crowd I saw mainly consisted of elderly folks and vacationing families - including some pleasant-faced Mennonites. I joined the line for the "Men in White" show.
The theatre was set up with three wide screens. One is directly is front, and the other two slant off to the sides. The movie picture appears to "wrap" around all three screens. Beneath the screens is a stage, with a campfire and an animatronic girl. After a few minutes, the lights dim. The animatronic girl on the stage, "Wendy," moves and asks some troubling questions: "Why am I here?" "Do I have a purpose?" Then the screens come alive. Two jovial angels (the "Men in White") direct you gently and with wit through huge, gaping pieces of natural evidence that evolution cannot explain. They race through the story of Genesis in a way that is very compelling and well-done. You get misted during the flood scenes and your seat rumbles during the earthquakes.
Next, you blink your way out of the theater and look for the start of the actual museum. You find it as you turn the corner and locate a pathway lined with 3-D dioramas of Adam and Eve and dinosaurs. On the wall you'll also see boxed exhibits of Darwin's finches and how natural selection actually works, window exhibits full of some impressive (and real) fossils, the problems of radioisotope dating, and more.
The pathway winds on, leading you through the "seven C's" of the world - creation, corruption, catastrophe, confusion, Christ, cross, and consummation. Most of this presents the Biblical story, rather than scientific data. However, video screens and wall exhibits constantly explain how natural science reinforces the points discussed.
As you wind through the museum, there are two other smaller theaters with additional presentations. The most you should have to wait for a seat is about 15 minutes, if the crowd is similar to the one on the day I attended.
Of course, there is only so much you can pack into a three-hour tour. The Creation Museum spends more time presenting the creationist view than refuting specific evolutionary claims, although it does do some of that. However, the bookstore has follow-up materials on just about every and any creationist/evolutionist debate topic.
In most museums I've visited, people seem to "pick and choose" which exhibits they'll focus on. But on the day I visited, everyone was looking at each and every poster, exhibit, and diorama. Most of the visitors seemed fascinated, and when the guide asked my group how they had enjoyed their Creation Museum visit, I heard only positive replies.
Of course, a Creation Museum is bound to have its detractors. When he saw my media lanyard, a 16-year-old who was in front of me in the line began talking loudly, saying creationism was stupid and making derogatory remarks about those who (like him!) were visiting the museum. I got the strong sense he was hoping to be featured in some national article. How disappointed he must have been when he finally asked me what publication I represent, and found out it was Practical Homeschooling! So much for his 15 minutes of fame.
PHS wishes to leave you with some surprises. So we won't describe in detail the joys of the planetarium show with its overarching, awe-inspiring view of our own smallness and God's immensity, or of the bookstore, its walls stocked with helpful DVDs. You will have to discover them for yourself. Plus, the new Dinosaur Den, which wasn't open yet when I visited, will be open by the time you read this. According to its description on the Creation Museum calendar, "The Dinosaur Den will be the home to a number of Buddy Davis' sculpted dinosaurs. Other features include a display a number of real fossilized dinosaur eggs. A 35-inch-long Hadrosaur tibia, a Triceratops skeleton casting, and video presentations are among what you'll find in this exciting area as well."
The Creation Museum is open seven days a week this summer, from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm Monday through Saturday, and 12:00 noon to 6:00 pm on Sunday. Admission costs $9.95 for children (5 - 12), $19.95 for an adult (13 - 59), $14.95 for a senior (60+), and is free for all children under 5 years old. The planetarium costs an additional $5. Annual passes are available.
If you wish to visit as a group, you'll need to plan far in advance, since as of the end of June, the earliest group reservation available was in November!
Everything you'll need to plan your visit can be found at creationmuseum.org, including their nifty TV commercial. Or, for those of you with no Web access, you can call (888) 582-4253 for information and assistance.
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