Creation Museum: Attendance is Dropping and They Can’t Raise Enough Funding for Ark Park

The Creation Museum had big plans to build Ark Encounter, a theme park for Creationists…

… but it looks like they’ve hit a snag with funding. That’s not the only bad news for them, either:

The group initially announced that it expected to break ground on the park in 2011, before eventually pushing that date back to 2014. But in June, in an interview in the Creation Museum’s “Noah’s Cafe,” Ark Encounter vice president Michael Zovath told Yahoo News that the group no longer has a date in mind for the construction to begin. It has been unable to raise sufficient amounts of money, despite pleas to the Creation Museum’s visitors to donate to the project.

“Fundraising is really tough,” Zovath said, blaming the recession. “It’s not moving so fast as we hoped.” The private LLC that is building the park would need to raise another $20 million before it can break ground, he said. So far, it’s taken in $5.6 million in donations and $17 million in private investments.

To add to the bad news, the Creation Museum is having its lowest attendance year yet. Last fiscal year, 280,000 people visited, compared to 404,000 the first year it opened in 2007. Zovath thinks that potential visitors have been less willing to travel to the museum because of the poor economy.

You know, it’s also possible that all of us who wanted to visit the museum to see the kind of nonsense it parades have already seen it and we don’t have any urge to go back for more.

So the further dumbing down of children, courtesy of the Creation Museum, has been temporarily stalled. Finally, an upside to a bad economy.

(Thanks to @Jason_Hoover for the link!)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • Aaron Scoggin

    Well, nothing left to do but ask the taxpayers for money. I’m sure it’ll be alright. -_-;

    • Spherical Basterd

      They already did in the form of a large tax abatement.

  • http://dogmabytes.com/ Cpeterson

    Not very creative, if you ask me. Heck, for just a few bucks at the hobby store they could add a Lock Ness Monster exhibit. A quick trip to the costume store… Bigfoot!

    I work at a museum, and one key to keeping people coming back is changing some of the exhibits.

    • Jim Valentine

       And one of the things that religion is bad at is changing anything.

    • fett101

      They’d never agree to a slow gradual change of exhibits.

      It’s gotta be one big construction project at a time or nothing at all.

      • OregoniAn

          What..? You expect them to “evolve”? They’re not too big on that word  =)

    • http://www.facebook.com/gmillar Gavin Millar

      There actually is a “Loch Ness monster” exhibit in the local museum where I grew up. It’s called an elasmosaurus. 

  • http://www.everydayintheparkwithgeorge.com/ Matt E

    Hemant, do you know if this is the first year they have had a significant decline in attendance or has there been a steady decline. I look forward to when you announce their declaration of bankruptcy.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Hemant Mehta

      Unsure… I think they only release numbers when they’re happy about them so this is the first time I’ve heard of a decline.

  • http://twitter.com/gingerjet gingerjet

    Petersburg, KY isn’t exactly a target destination for most folks.  Should of built it in Orlando.  

    • Aaron Scoggin

      Yeah, really. “Hey, where are you going on vacation to?” “Oh, we’re going to Kentucky!”

      Can you imagine?

    • magentamom

      They have a religious themed park in Orlando. We were driving past it. I’m Christian, but no we didn’t stop. Watching Jesus flogged was not on the vacation agenda. But they have it. The Holy Land Experience, I think.

  • http://www.facebook.com/don.gwinn Don Gwinn

    This reminds me of Oral Roberts’ hospital in Tulsa (I just finished Randi’s *The Faith Healers.*)  Could the next step be God’s revelation to Ken Ham that he’s one dead mofo unless the faithful raise the millions by, say, Christmas?

    • Dawny229

       Well, I suppose Ken Ham could always chain himself on top of one of his dinosaur models and tell everyone that unless he gets the money for his ark project..god will “take him home”

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

        We can only hope.

  • ortcutt

    An adult ticket to the Creation Museum is $29.95.  Children 5-12 are $15.95.  A family of four would need to pay $95.80 to go there.  How many people do they think are going to go there to see a bunch of dioramas more than once?   

    By comparison, the world-class Columbus Zoo is $14.99 general admission, $9.99 for children 2-9.  Even if you have older children, you’re still only spending $60, and you get to see actual living animals, not dioramas and propaganda.

    Is there any wonder that this place is failing?

    • Julie Reizner

       The Cincinnati Zoo is way closer to this monstrosity, and is also excellent.  Not to the mention the Cincinnati Museum Center and the Newport Aquarium – all of which are much cheaper.

       This is what happens when your exhibits never change because you aren’t doing science.

    • magentamom

      Oh, that’s way too much for the snark. We’re not too far off, but no way.

    • http://alternet.com/ George Schmitt

      Yes, and the animals are real.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jim.griffith Griff Jim Griffith

    At least in the Flying Spaghetti Monster Museum there’d be lots and lots of pasta…

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

       And you could always have, like, a pasta buffet or something that’s FSM-themed. Shit, I’d go just for THAT.

    • Frankeinstein

      Can I ride his holy noodle ?

    • DakotaMark

       The Invisible Pink Unicorn Museum would attract lots of children and the displays would cost nothing. Admission could be free and the sales of pink cotton candy and overpriced plush pink unicorns would surely meet all expenses and provide a nice profit. No complicated noodly appendages to build.

  • Ericemerick

    Most of the museums in DC are free. We even have an awesome free zoo!

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Adrian-Chester/682538320 Adrian Chester

      Free Zoo? Mate if I had one of those in my town I would never get to work or school? 

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tracie-Holladay/1307312473 Tracie Holladay

        Yup, the National Zoo! 

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tracie-Holladay/1307312473 Tracie Holladay

      Hell yeah! Oh how I miss the Smithsonian museums!

  • MyScienceCanBeatUpYourGod

    Noah’s a great character from a classic literary work of fiction that has delighted kids for centuries; but in this day and age, he just can’t compete with Spiderman and Harry Potter.

    • Patterrssonn

      I don’t know he just seemed grumpy and weird to me when I was a kid. And the ark vs thunderbird 3? No comparison.

    • DakotaMark

       If I were a bit grumpier I’d ask kids about the Noah story. Questions would include:

      How many puppy dogs did Noah take on the ark?

      How many kittens did Noah take on the ark?

      How many little boys and girls did Noah take on the ark?

      I think the kid’s grins would turn to frowns when they learned the answer to number three.

    • Billy Bob

      Well, ask any kid if he’d rather be Spiderman or Noah.

  • Dawny229

    This type of thing might actually be another symptom of a growing problem in the evangelical movement…it’s been losing members in recent years.  Young people under the age of thirty are bailing on their churches at the highest rate.  The problem is being acknowledged by the evangelical community through the publication of several books documenting the phenomenon.  Some of the largest reasons being given for leaving the churches has been…”religion is anti-gay”..religion is “anti-science”..and an inability to reconcile the principles of one’s faith with the reality of living in a larger, diverse community.

    • magentamom

      Well, religion is not necessarily anti-gay or anti-science. Although this, well, yes.

  • Blanc_Slate

    Makes me kinda glad the creation museum exists: to show the folly in believing the idea it promotes.

  • kenneth

    This is heartening. It suggests that there are limits to American’s stupidity and gullibility. If we think of ignorance as an abundant, but finite, natural resource, perhaps this is akin to “peak oil.” We may be turning a corner!

    • JD929

       There is no “peak stupid”.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1363375983 Patrick Vincent

        Certainly not among Xtians….

  • DaveDodo007

    Yay! Lets promote the fact that our god is a genocidal maniac including all land breathing animals except for the occupants of a small wooden boat. Go god:-)

    • http://www.facebook.com/don.gwinn Don Gwinn

      I didn’t even think of that.  This like having a wacky volcano theme park next to Pompeii or a park based on WWII role-playing and simulations at Hiroshima with a franchise coming soon at Auschwitz.

      • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

        *snicker*

      • Piet

         I actually got the chills reading this.

        • Firechild

          so did I…the humour is not missed though… :S

  • Rebecca

    Maybe they could pray for the creation museum to be flooded so they could justify the need for the ark? Win-win.

    • http://twitter.com/sploork Rob Follett

      or at least the insurance payout?

    • Billy Bob

      Why don’t they just pray that God opens up the sky and pours money down on them. Or maybe that he builds it himself.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jc.craig1 Jim Craig

    I work in a museum that would give anything for Ham’s current numbers. But we’re in a small city and we’re doing okay despite the economy. Our numbers are up 22% from last year.

    Our general admission is $7.00 for adults and $5.00 for kids. We also have a planetarium with an additional charge of $3.00. So if a family of four comes in for everything, they’re only out $36.00. We also open two days each month with free admission.

    We are constantly changing our exhibits and programs to keep it fresh and interesting for our visitors. We’re also in the midst of a good sized expansion that will give us a new environmental studies center. It’s not a $40 million theme park but it will give us new facilities where we can teach science.

    • frankeinstein

      Yes but your investments are smaller ! If Disney World did that little it would close in a second.
      I really hope that this none-science museum will close as soon as possible.

    • http://alternet.com/ George Schmitt

      You do NOT teach science. There are billions of books and millions of librarys, thousands of colleges, millions of teachers, professors, an a whole lot of just damn smart people that say YOU’RE FULL OF SHIT! That’s why you will close.

      • Shem Bingman

        You do realize that you are replying to someone who stated they were from a completely different Museum than the blog post is discussing, right?

  • Sheila G

    Ah!  Explains the dinosaur billboard that went up recently in Oklahoma City, at the Junction of I-44 & I-35.
    http://news.yahoo.com/creation-museum-national-billboard-campaign-features-dinosaurs-not-211315312.html 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=894850205 Jayson Levine

    I suppose it’s a good thing this isn’t happening.  Could you imagine the freaky coincidence of a bunch of attendees drowning in the water park’s malfunctioning wave pool?

  • MNK


    Zovath thinks that potential visitors have been less willing to travel to the museum because of the poor economy.”  …. And that would be directly linked to the fact that the vast majority of people who would actually want to see your museum (and believe its lies) are people who are poorly educated in general. If they’re not already out of work and searching, they’re in jobs that pay garbage and have little to no opportunity for salary advances. That’s what opposing education will get you.

  • MNK


    By comparison, the world-class Columbus Zoo is $14.99 general admission, $9.99 for children 2-9.  Even if you have older children, you’re still only spending $60, and you get to see actual living animals, not dioramas and propaganda.”…. Not to mention, most zoos and museums participate in reciprocal membership arrangements, so by forking over an extra $20 or so instead of paying for single-visit admission, you get a membership for the family that’s good at numerous places. Win.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Stephan-Goodwin/676660806 Stephan Goodwin

    You know, real museums update what they have every few months to keep it fresh, and they also keep up with new science and findings as much as possible.  How exactly does a Creation “museum” keep up with new findings and change what it has?  

    Oh, it can’t.  

  • Hellar420

    good

  • Iamsmalfry

    I think the lord forgit he already had a project going — since 1976. Btw, it still sits tjere a steel structure. http://vimeo.com/m/20847589

    • Sindigo

      I watched the video. Favourite quote: “Two weeks later he’d made us the biggest hole you’ve ever seen.”

      I’ll be the judge of that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/don.gwinn Don Gwinn

    Yikes!  They’d charge my family $136 per day (and that’s only admission!)  For that money, I’d better not walk away frustrated at being lied to all day.
    We paid that much to spend a day at the College of Curiosity, which was held at the City Museum in St. Louis.  My son and I spent all day at the C of C doing cool science stuff and my wife and the other two sons played in the museum all day.  There are no exhibits at the City Museum that you can’t climb in, on, under or around and play with . . . it’s all slides, rollers, tunnels, pipes, chutes, caves, trees, crafts, and then there’s the giant outdoor three-story playground and the old (actual) school bus and airplane mounted a few stories in the air that the kids can climb up to and play in . . . .and the carnival and water stuff on the roof.  
    Comparing that to the Creation Museum would be ridiculous, but I guess I just did.

    Hell, for that money, if you want to teach your kids how creationism works, take ‘em to the beach.  Point at the ocean and tell ‘em, “See, Johnny?  Tide goes in, tide goes out, and it never messes up.  You can’t explain that!”  Done.  Kid’s a believer and Bob’s your uncle.

    • matt

       I’m from St Louis and I too love the city museum.  We have an awesome zoo too!

  • Sindigo

    They clearly aren’t praying hard enough.

  • Chris G

    The creation “museum” is the best thing to happen to atheists in 100 years. Nothing like a scale model of stupidity to really help people see it for what it really is: nonsense!

  • Sware

    And just like every other religious monstrosity, I can’t help but think that there are hundreds if not thousands of other ways to use that knid of money to do something truly positive in the world. “They’ll know we are Christians by our love,” message not working out so well or something?

  • http://LosingMyReligion.ca Chad Kettner

    Why don’t they just ask God to lend a hand?

  • Allen

    I kinda wish they COULD build a full-scale ark so that people could see with their own eyes how impossible it would be to get so many animals (not to mention a year+ of supplies and food–some of which would have to include even more animals).

    Relevant: http://imgur.com/Isg9L

  • Cthulhu

    Hmm.  Wonder why Jesus isn’t providing?

    • http://twitter.com/GeekyMonkey8 Russ Painter

       It’s obviously a test.  Unless he does come through in the end, in which case it’s a “sign”.  Either way, Jesus is proving he’s real.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/FDGYHBEWVNGUG763L5X4TON3JQ Nazani14

    I am most concerned about the fate of the animals that would be displayed at any ark exhibit.   For starters, it might be hard to find any actual zoologists willing to work there.  No way would animals be treated well by people who think the planet is a non-recyclable container.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dan-Lewis/1166493133 Dan Lewis

      Agreed, real or animatronic animals would be required for the place.
      Either way, it’s expensive! Maintenance for live or electronic animals is seriously costly.
      I think we should fight the religious deluded in the museums, the malls and the miniature golfs! Religion comforts…and cripples.

  • http://www.facebook.com/chrisalgoo Chris Algoo

    Sounds like a Kickstarter!

  • Beth

    I’m embarrassed as a Kentuckian that we subsidized this place.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/XL7IPI3QI7Y4ZGZNNOPMVAG2MQ Gordon

    People with their heads buried in the sand don’t get out much. No wonder they have so few visitors!

  • http://twitter.com/GeekyMonkey8 Russ Painter

    I have an idea how they can fund this.  They need to team up with the Jews and Muslims.  Their combined resources and customer base would surely make this economically feasible.

    It could also be much more exciting with things like a Crusade-land section where there are Christians pretending to slaughter Muslims.  Make a good show of it!  And there could be a “spot the bomber” completions where the first guest to identify the Muslim staff member with a fake bomb inside their uniform gets a free ham sandwich with a Kosher pickle.  There’s a million things you could do with this to keep it exciting.  Even sell those funky jew hats with the curls on the side.  Kids loves that stuff.

  • Mike H.

    They need to build the Ark and place a pair of Three-Toed Sloths right at the exit ramp. Then explain how those Sloths, that walk about 6.5 feet per MINUTE and must sleep 15 hrs per day, made their way from the middle east to their present day home in South America…or explain how Noah and his family managed to feed and tend to more animals than in all the worlds zoo’s combined that require a staff of thousands to support! Questioning Xtians in this manner ultimately pushes them into the realm of pure magic and fantasy, as only “the power of God” can explain these things…at least to them.

  • pagansister

    Really big crock tears being spilled here over that news.  GEE!    Where is God when you need her/him? :0)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dan-Lewis/1166493133 Dan Lewis

    I hope a petition against this is developing.

  • magentamom

    They didn’t know that a lot of the visitors were there early on for the snark? Really?

    I feel bad for them. I do. But they got visitors for the “OMG, can you believe we’re seeing this.” They’re not coming back.

  • cantbelievebible

    i was just reading Ken Ham’s (founder of this park) explanation for Cain’s wife on the AnswersInCreation.org website… The question being, if it was only Adam,Eve and Cain and Able.. where did Cain’s wife come from? And holy cow… the mental gymnastics this guy had to do to explain this was amazing! My head hurt after reading this one. Brothers and sisters were able to have sex back then without risk of deformity because god made them “perfect”, no genetic defects. And it was only after Adam’s sin, that humans began to degenerate and the need for no sex with your siblings became necessary! So he believes in no evolution, but de-evolving is ok!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ea-Higgins/100003701192306 E.a. Higgins

    They’re not praying hard enough.

  • Kenton Forshee

    They’re asking for 20 million?
    If they believe that the Noah’s ark story is true, how much money do they think it cost Noah to build it?

  • Billy Bob

    “To add to the bad news, the Creation Museum is having its lowest attendance year yet.”

    They spelled “good” wrong

  • http://alternet.com/ George Schmitt

    Just like the trillionares that funded carl rove, the people that invest in this monstrosity will get little in return except their own ignorant, intolerant offspring.

    • JanetMermaid

      There’s hope after all (I hope) that the Plutocracy that has tried to keep the populace ignorant, superstitious, anti-science, and in a constant state of in-fighting might actually ultimately lose that battle.

  • SlickWilly

    if your atheist worldview is true, why sit around and mock others? even if you are right, it’s a wasted effort. if you are incorrect, it’s also a wasted effort.

    • http://alternet.com/ George Schmitt

      The reason we have to speak out is because of the horrendous damage done by organized religion.

    • lmern

      What an ignorant thing to say, “Atheist Worldview”…

      So, you inherently reject logic, reason, intellect, and scientific discovery and advancement? The rejection of God(s) is merely an inevitable side effect of these values. If you think the Atheist perspective is so ridiculous, then you don’t deserve to live in an advanced society, since scientists, engineers, and more dedicated themselves to understanding the world on a level deeper than Religious texts would have you know. They invented and improved all the comforts you enjoy today. All because they were keen on evolving their understanding of the Natural World. If everyone threw up their hands and considered their education done when Scripture tells them so, our species would degenerate – I really cannot even FATHOM the chaos that would ensue… It is therefore imperative that we speak out against the corruption that is Religion, in all its forms. Left to make its own rules, it has festered in society, and will continue to do so if we don’t change.

  • Rhonda

    God is real! His creation of this world and of you is real. I feel sad for you that do not believe in Him or in His majestic works. It is because of Him we all exist and have the choice to believe in Him. You might remember that the theories you believe in are just that, theories. There is much science that directly relates to creation. Personally, I find it easier to believe you can come from a divine God than a rock. The fact is, even though we may have different views about our existence,one day the truth will be known to all and no one will be able to deny the Truth.

    • lmern

      The advent of the internet has created a society of people hungry for information – and able to access any and all of it without leaving the comfort of their home.
      More and more people world wide are turning from God(s), simply because it is that much harder for Religious Institutions to keep people ignorant. Studies speculate the world could even be more or less free from Religion by the year 2040. All this because more people are reading and learning about advanced topics once only available to those determined to get a higher education.
      Also, no one came from a rock. That’s just silly and proof that you’ve squandered the Internets greatest gift to you. Knowledge.
      I’m happy to say your perspectives and toxic doctrines could well soon be a thing of the past, people like you are only making it harder for us to advance as a species. I wont be sorry to see you go.


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