The Answers in Genesis, Creation Museum, recently celebrated the 1 year anniversary of its opening. Before it was built, the museum was expected to have 250,000 visitors its first year. Attendance far outpaced that though and the museum welcomed its 400,000th visitor on May 21 (5 days before its anniversary).
I had the privilege of visiting the museum the week it opened and had written a review of it online. In celebration of this milestone for the museum, I thought I’d repost my first impression here.
My Trip to the New Museum!
Well, I did it! I went to the newly opened Creation Museum. And, as I promised, I’m going to relate a little of my experience there. I’m not sure where to begin but I thought it would be a good idea to divide different parts of the museum into different posts. In this post, I’ll talk a little about the first impressions.
The museum is only a short distance off a main highway that circles Cincinnati. There are road signs directing people to the museum so it’s really impossible to miss. The weather today was hot, but this morning it was overcast so the sun wasn’t glaring. Overall, it was a nice day. As I drove up, I looked to see if there were any protesters and there weren’t. A staff member told me later there were only a few on the first day; she said around 15-20 but the news reported about 100. Either way, I guess that means there were very few.
The wrought-iron gates leading into the museum are topped with silhouettes of 2 stegosauruses. The wilderness area can be seen on the right (described in detail in another post) and the museum itself dead ahead. It’s a very sharp, contemporary building. It had been redone since I visited it about 1 year ago under construction. There had been a covered patio area along the front of the building but that was now enclosed to become a foyer where the ticket counters, brochures, and some cool statues were.
I got there a little after opening (10AM) and there were a fair number of cars already there. I saw license plates from FL, NY, PA, KS, MO, LA, IL, TX, MI, WY, and of course, OH/KY/IN. There was only a short line at the admissions window. Admission is 19.50 for an adult but I had a $5 off coupon I had printed from the website. I also purchased admission to the planetarium for $5. My 4 year old son was admitted free. Also, they gave me a discount card good for $5 off admission all year.
In the foyer there was a dino skeleton but I didn’t notice the name on the plaque. The other statues were a wooly rhino skeleton, a white rhino, and a giraffe. All were life sized and very well done. They appeared carved.
Inside the main lobby there were several animatronic-statues. Overhead, there was a life sized saurapod, eating some plants. There was a large aquarium type display (made to look like a small pond/stream) stocked with real fish and turtles. On the other side of the water were 2 animatronic children playing in the water and 2 small bipedal dinos standing nearby.
Also in the lobby were several display cases with real animals: one holding a chameleon, another dart frogs, and another finches. There were some long hallways leading to the restrooms and along the walls were displays of fossils. Some of them were very impressive. They included the “fish-eating-fish fossil”, a horse-shoe crab with a long trail of its fossilized tracks, several cat skulls, shark teeth, etc.
Everything about the building was very well done. Admittedly, it’s a new building so it would be expected to look new but it was done very high-end.
While waiting for admittance into the planetarium, on display right outside is the old planetary projector which was used to train the Mercury astronauts. The planetarium sat about 40-50 people. The show itself was 22 minutes long and its theme was “the scale of the universe.” It was narrated by the same guy who does the voice of John Whitaker on Adventures in Odyssey. It began with the reading of Genesis 1 from the 1968 Apollo space mission. It did a pretty good job of impressing upon the viewer the enormity of the universe.
For the 1st 19 minutes or so, the film was pretty matter of fact and only occasionally mentioned God. It could be used in most secular planetariums. Only for about the last 3 minutes did it talk about a young universe. It touched upon the distant starlight problem and offered a couple of suggested resolutions. I couldn’t take notes in the dark (and with my son on my lap) but I recall one that was mentioned was the time dilation effect of a deep gravitational well (I suppose from Humphreys White Hole cosmology model). At least one other was mentioned but I couldn’t recall it later. Theories not mentioned were CDK or light-in-transit. The film concluded by pointing how earth, though it is seemingly inconsequential in the immense universe, it still the center of God’s attention.
In all fairness, the last planetarium I’ve visited was on the University of Louisville’s campus about 20 years ago. I would suppose that technology is a little improved since then. Even so, this was good. The movie played more like an Omnimax or IMAX show rather than the planetarium shows I remember from my youth.
The Museum Itself
The entrance into the main exhibit area is done in a Grand Canyon motif. Immediately inside is a mocked up display of an archeological/pale ontological dig. On TV monitors (monitors are everywhere here) 2 archeologists are explaining how they each interpret their find – one is YEC and the other evolutionist. In the next room, there are several wall plaques (plaques isn’t quite the right word but I can’t think of how else to describe them) show different explanations of various evidence side by side. One plaque, for example, has the evolutionary “tree of life” with the first organism living ~4 billion years ago. Next to it is the YEC “orchard” of life showing a variety of species descending from a single created kind.
In the next area were some displays of people trusting or rejecting the word. I recall there was a statue of Luther nailing his 95 theses to a door. There was a Gutenberg bible and a Hebrew text smuggled out of Iraq in a car tire just before the deposing of Sadam. On the far wall was a mural depicting a scene from the Scopes trial. Just before leaving the room, there was a copy of Charles Templeton’s book, Farewell to God, with a quote explaining how he rejected a belief in God based, in part, on not believing the Genesis account of creation.
The next area was built like a city street or alley with walls covered with graffiti depicting a type of “dark side” or life without God. In a small room there were some college age kids on monitors with facts being displayed how there are many young adults leaving the church.
Up until now, an emphasis has been on contrasting 2 world views: A natural view without God and a Christian view. From here, the remainder of the exhibits revolve around the 7 C’s of creation: Creation, Curse, Catastrophe, Confusion, Christ, Crucifixion, and Consummation.
The 1st C is kicked off in a small (30 or so seats) theater with a video dramatization of Genesis 1. It’s extremely well done. Leaving that room, there’s an area with several picture/plaques discussing the unique design of creation. There’s a monitor showing a 1 minute loop of the creation of Adam. Just past this, the real meat of the museum begins.
There’s a long pathway which winds past scenes from Genesis. The first scene is of Adam naming the animals. Several life sized animals are exhibited. There had to be a tremendous amount of artistic license used in creating the animals since we have no way of knowing what the original kinds looked like. I remember there were some horse like animals; they had zebra like faces and manes but their coats were a mixture of spots and stripes. There was also a leopard like cat and a cougar like cat, the latter with a small mane. There were also 2 dino-kind animal statues.
The next scene was of the creation of Eve. Then finally, a scene with Adam and Eve standing waist deep in a pond with a serpent looking down on them from a tree.
This is the start of the curse section.
Around the corner a display case with just the serpent. It was portrayed as being red with mane around its head like a horned toad. From there was a scene of Adam and Eve wearing skins and standing next to an altar with 2 sacrificed animals on it.
Immediately past this room is a large area with an animatronic dino. It’s standing over a small, dead dino either having just killed it or about to scavenge it. All along this area are small plaques discussing how certain condition may have come to be in the world: diseases, venom, etc.
Next was Cain* with a small garden in front of a brick home. There were 2 small children playing nearby and a pregnant woman (I suppose Cain’s wife) standing on a step by the door. On the wall across from the display was a plaque with the question, “Where did Cain get his wife?” There was a long explanation below which I didn’t read. Ken Ham says this is THE most asked question he gets while lecturing.
[*Added in edit. On a subsequent visit to the museum, I realized this was not Cain and his wife but Adam and Eve. The 2 children playing presumably were Cain and Abel.]
Next was a scene of Cain standing over a dead Abel.
Here began the Catastrophe section.
The first scene was an animated Methuselah talking about how he was alive while Adam was and knew what the world was once like. Now, his grandson Noah had been warned of God’s judgment. The next room depicts the construction of the Ark. One animated workman is talking about how foolish it is to be building the Ark. In another area, Noah is overseeing things as he talks to one worker about coming on the Ark with them. One plaque says the Ark in the room represents about 1% of the actual Ark.
In the next area are several Ark models. One gives a good depiction of scale by showing several animals outside the Ark. There was good attention to detail because I noticed several tree stumps all around the Ark demonstrating how many trees would have been cut down in the immediate area to build the Ark. The exhibit did make one small mistake by having both horses and zebras displayed outside the Ark. I think both would have been represented by a single pair of horse-kind.
A TV monitor in the room showed a 1-2 minute loop of the world just before the flood. It did not portray a “canopy” collapsing. Instead, it showed great fissures (the fountains of the deep) bursting open with water shooting far into the air. The clip ends with 2 small girls looking out the window of their home and seeing a tidal wave coming.
The next room displays what might be the most “scientific” part of the tour. There are several photos from the Mt. St. Helen’s eruption. Explanations of how certain geological formations are formed by water.
I believe it was here also that discussed some of the YEC theories about plate tectonics.
Next began the Confusion area of the museum. A monitor played a short vignette on the account of the Tower of Babel. One wall displayed people of various cultures with the “One Blood” account of how different ethnic groups arose. It also discussed racism and how some people incorrectly consider people of different skin color to be qualitatively different.
Finally, the final C’s (Christ, Crucifixion, and Consummation) were presented in a 10-15 minute video that explained how Christ was born to be the Lamb of God and His death was the payment for our sins. Ultimately, the world would be restored to its original, perfect state. It was very moving and after the movie, a staff member announced there were staff members available to discuss what was shown (almost like an invitation).
Honestly, the museum was not quite what I expected. While there were some dinos in different places, and some technical stuff, the over impression of the museum was more evangelical. It didn’t go out of its way to bash evolution or present YEC over ToE as the better model. Instead, it simply presented the events as the Bible as actual history.
The tour of the museum ends in the bookstore (a fairly common tactic; the aquarium in this area does the same thing). Like everything else in the museum, it’s done up very well. It has a sort of Barnes and Noble feel with its wooden bookcases – except here there is a dragon-like dino right in the middle of the room. There are many books/DVDs on creation of course, but there are other Christian books as well: there are some bibles, bible commentaries, and some classics like Pilgrim’s Progress. I was surprised how few toys and souvenirs there were for children. They had some interesting novelties like real dino egg shell fragments and some biblical coins (a widow’s mite and a drachnia) The prices were reasonable for a gift shop. I bought my son a pack of 12 toy dinos and a magazine for myself for a total of $11.
The Noah Café/Grill
The food was typical for a museum. It was served cafeteria style. Again the prices were reasonable for a place like this. We bought a 10 piece chicken nugget to share, mac/cheese, a pop and 2 candy bars for $8.
The floor of the café was made to look like rock strewn with fossils. On the back of the café was a beautiful mural of Noah’s ark resting on a mountain with a rainbow above it. The tables and benches were wooden to give the room a feel like being inside a wooden boat.
We ate on the large patio area that overlooked the pond and wilderness trails. At the bottom of a flight of stairs was a huge wooden deck that stretched out over the lake.
The Wilderness Trail
There was a meandering trail that was still being worked on. It’s not a “hike” by any means. The whole thing is wheel chair accessible. A lot of the plants looked like they had just been planted. Along the way were some topiary bushes of deer, dinos, and a sort of Loch Ness looking one at the water’s edge.
There were 3 waterfalls and 4-5 wooden bridges. There were also 2 rope bridges: one was suspended and the other floating.
Men in White
This was a 20-25 minute movie shown in the museum’s special effects theater. The theater seats around 200. The special effects include seats that vibrate as a dino walks by and mists of water during the flood scene.
The Men in White movie is introduced as a “satire” and some of the characters are identified as “stereotypes.” I would say rather they are caricatures of certain types of evolutionists. The movie is meant to be light hearted and not a “slam” on evolution.It starts with an animatronic girl named Wendy sitting in front of a camp fire facing the screen. On the screen is a beautiful panorama of a canyon and the night sky. She’s asking the typical questions: why am I here, is there a God, etc? Suddenly, 2 angels appear (named Mike & Gabe) and start talking about how there is a God who created the world.
The scene cuts to the caricatures of a scientist, a school teacher, and a philosopher going on about the “facts” of evolution and “there is no God.” When a student questions the teacher about the possibility evolution might not be true, she answers, “You’re violating the constitution of the United States and the separation of church and state!” It’s really kind of funny the way she says it.
It then has a news interview with Susan TeeVee and Ed U. Kashan. Ed is citing the “facts” about how radiometric dating has proved the earth is 4.2 Billion years old and Susan is nodding along in agreement with everything he says. Mike & Gabe hit pause on their remote every few minutes and interject a YEC explanation of the evidence.
A little later, the 2 angels are in a classroom where a teacher is showing a slide show about YellowstonePark and discusses the evolutionary angle of it. Mike and Gabe begin asking the teacher tough questions and offering some evidence for a young earth.
The movie wasn’t attempting to be “scientific” but some of the evidences talked about for a young earth were the helium present in ancient zircon, the amount of salt in the ocean, decay of the earth’s magnetic field, etc.
In the end, Wendy had not made up her mind, but she was at least considering both options.
Of everything I’d seen in the entire museum, this was the most “confrontational” in contrasting YEC and evolution. Even though the evolutionists were portrayed in caricature, they were still giving the same lines I always hear from evolutionists. Also, Mike & Gabe never said evolution was wrong or creation was right. Only that evolution wasn’t proven and there are other explanations for the “evidence” which evolution presents.
While obviously favoring the YEC position, the movie was sending the message just to question the “facts” of evolution and decide for yourself.