Creation Museum’s Visitor Numbers Dwindle; It May Fall Victim to Natural Selection

Come for the animatronic dinosaurs, stay for the zip-lines!

That seems to be the new message of Kentucky’s Creation Museum. In an effort to stanch the, um, exodus of visitors, museum officials have installed more than two miles of zip-lines and “sky bridges” outside the building. They acknowledge that these have nothing to do with the Creation fable, but maintain that the add-ons don’t change the core message in the slightest.

Mike Zovath, the museums co-founder and vice president, says that the extra activities are irrelevant. “No matter what exhibit we add, the message stays the same,” Zovath said. “It’s all about God’s word and the authority of God’s word and showing that all of these things, whether it’s bugs, dinosaurs, or dragons — it all fits with God’s word.”

Yep, he said dragons. The newest kookery imaginative display the curators dreamed up purports to show that dragons and dinosaurs are probably one and the same beast, and that these creatures lived alongside and in relative harmony with humans, who tamed them and in some cases saddled and rode them.

The dragon exhibit, like the zip-lines, is designed to bring back the disappearing visitors.

In 2012, the Creation Museum reported a 10 percent decline in attendance from the previous year, and its parent group, Answers in Genesis, posted a 5 percent drop in revenue. That continues a four-year slump and a new low for the museum at 280,000 total visitors last year [other sources say last year's total was 254,000 visitors, down from 400,000 in 2007, its opening year, TF].

Even more ominously, fundraising for the Ark Encounter [a planned amusement park built around a life-size replica of Noah's Ark, TF] has slowed to a crawl. Its future is further imperiled by the decline of the Creation Museum, whose visitors were expected to be a huge source of funding for the ark park. As of January, [founder] Ken Ham had failed to raise even half the money required to build the ark replica itself, let alone the rest of the park. To help out, you can buy a peg, a blank, or even a beam for $100, $500, and $1,500, respectively — but seeing as the fate of the ark is in serious jeopardy, is a free pass to the grand opening really worth the risk?

The museum’s vice president thinks the decline has to do with the recession, and that rising gas prices may dissuade out-of-state visitors from making the drive. But revenues continued to dwindle when gas prices yo-yo’d down, and other theme parks and attractions are doing just fine. For instance, Disney Parks in Florida are reporting across-the-board gains.

PZ Myers predicts that the Creation Museum will soon be called up to heaven, as it were — just like other failed Christian theme parks:

It’s doomed to the fate of Holy Land USA and Heritage USA.

The perfect comment on the Creation Museum’s sinking fortunes comes from one of Myers’ readers:

I guess as museums go it wasn’t very intelligently designed.

Well played, sir.

About Terry Firma

Terry Firma, though born and Journalism-school-educated in Europe, has lived in the U.S. for the past 20-odd years. Stateside, his feature articles have been published in the New York Times, Reason, Rolling Stone, Playboy, and Wired. Terry is the founder and Main Mischief Maker of Moral Compass, a site that pokes fun at the delusional claim by people of faith that a belief in God equips them with superior moral standards.

  • eric

    I guess as museums go it wasn’t very intelligently designed.

    PZ might have said that tongue in cheek, but its spot on. Even regular museums have to change their exhibits to keep people coming in. Heck, the Smithsonian has to do that. If these folks thought they could put up a largely static display and have steady numbers every year, they’re terrible business managers.

    • Terry Firma

      But, but…zip-lines. And dragons!

      • Greg G.

        There’s a billboard advertizing the dragons that is less than a mile from my house and my house is about 150 miles from the museum.

    • EuropeanCommunist

      Exactly. How many repeat visitors does the Statue of Liberty get? You come there, you look at it, snap a few photos and that’s it. The only reason to come back is if you want to accompany someone else – your significant other, kids, etc. – who hasn’t seen it yet.

      • Gordon Duffy

        Are you suggesting the Statue of Liberty needs zip lines and dragons? ;)

        • Artor

          O.M.G! I absolutely want a zip line from the torch of the Statue of Liberty! Holy shit that would be AWESOME!

          • Michael

            Just don’t let the politicians on it. It always ends badly.

        • EuropeanCommunist

          I think you might be onto something there. And why stop just there? Eiffel Tower, Big Ben, Washington Monument, all of them boring. Zip lines required!

        • Spuddie

          HELL YES! New York needs something fun downtown.

        • TiltedHorizon

          Even without zip lines and dragons, Lady Liberty still gets north of 3 Million visitors a year, mostly to tour the grounds. Even with the statue closed for renovations (reopening 7/4/2013 if anyone is interested) it still gets a better turnout than this “museum”.

          • Gordon Duffy

            Hey, I was excited just to fly over the statue. Where the Statue is concerned I agree with the Ghostbusters. It is “Something that appeals to the best in each and every one of us.”

          • Spuddie

            Plus there is all of the traffic to view it from Battery Park or the Circle Line Tour.

          • Cattleya1

            There is also the issue of rural Northern KY as a destination. There is just not a whole lot to do there, so after all the dedicated fundies in a 300 mile radius have driven there and had their picture taken next to the fake dinosaur, who else is going to come? While someone might fly to NYC and see the Statue of Liberty one morning, I’ll just bet they have other things on their agenda.

        • busterggi

          Oh man, Marvel Comics could promote it as the Spidey-line!

      • Spuddie

        Nowadays they try to throw in Ellis Island for package tours. Ellis Island is pretty damn extensive as museums go.

    • Sven2547

      It’s partly symptomatic of the difference between science and creationist mythology.
      Science makes new discoveries, learns new insights, and is constantly improving upon our understanding of the past, present, and future. Science museums (the good ones, at least) reflect the dynamic nature of science itself.
      Creationist mythology doesn’t change. It doesn’t improve, it doesn’t run experiments, it doesn’t discover anything new. Ever. It’s completely static, like a single printed book. Unsurprisingly, creationist museums are equally stale.

      • SeekerLancer

        Exactly. People go and see the same things they’ve seen parroted on the Internet or by their pastors for the millionth time and they have no reason to ever see it again.

    • Artor

      It’s a symptom of their cargo-cult thinking toward science. They have no understanding of how it works, so they build their non-functioning replicas and can’t understand why educated people don’t like their work.

      • C Peterson

        Great analogy there.

    • Michael W Busch

      Well said, but one correction: it wasn’t PZ who came up with that particular phrase. It was one of the horde of Pharyngula commenters, using the nym “geeksmn”.

  • Matthew Baker

    They need a set of Jamboree Bears singing bible songs–that will draw people in.


    Unfortunately for the supporters of the creation museum, their children are not as computer illiterate as they are, and the kids have heard about that new fangled internets thingy that allows people to actually research this stuff in minutes. Fundamentalist religion will not survive the internet in numbers large enough to matter.

    • Terry Firma

      I don’t know. The Internet’s been around for more than two decades, and the museum opened six years ago. Why would the availability of Net access — roughly the same six years as it is now — be belatedly depressing visitor numbers?

      • JET

        It’s more than just the information available because of the internet. It’s also the rise of social networking and the anonymous discussions at places like Reddit. Redditors are ruthless when it comes to vetting posts and calling bullshit.

        • ElRay

          The problem here is that there’s plenty of creationist nonsense on the web too and as much as they can read, the creationists can’t understand and the creation garbage gives the illusion of being more valid, because it’s more understandable than the real, actually valid science, because it’s hard to understand.

          • JET

            But the millennials, generally speaking, are very good at sorting through all the garbage. If you say “Good morning” on Reddit, dozens will ask you for citations and give arguments as to why it is not. Wikipedia is as close to self-correcting as you can get.

          • Geoff Boulton

            When the lack of education regarding human reproduction means the knowledge of some people ranges between ‘You can’t get her pregnant if she’s your sister’ and ‘I’m a 14-year-old boy and I haven’t had my first period, yet’, it’s hardly surprising that the processes underlying Evolution are beyond their comprehension.

    • Jeff P

      Unfortunately, it is quite possible to spend lots of time using internet and never choose to browse to any site outside of your closed universe of fundamentalist belief.

  • C Peterson

    I guess the child safety rules are different in Kentucky (do they even have any?) The museum I’m on staff at would never have an exhibit where you perched a small child several feet over a stone floor. Yikes! I’m sure that wouldn’t be allowed by the state of Colorado, either.

    • Jeff

      Take a look at those orange warning signs around the base.

      “Children Only”

    • JET

      If they built this in California, it would require a safety harness, cushioned rubber floor, and a waiver signed by the parents.

    • Tainda

      I was thinking the same thing! At least hold her shirt for the love of all that’s holy to you!

      • C Peterson

        Well, Ken Ham was obviously dropped on his head as a baby, and look how far he’s managed to get.

    • The Other Weirdo

      Maybe their health and safety regulations are based on Starfleet’s. If you lose your balance and fall to the bottom of the warp core shaft, nobody gives a shit. You should have been more careful.

      • Tainda

        They would check your visor

    • islandbrewer

      Oh, I’m sure they’re praying that the hand of God will protect children from falling.

  • glenmorangie10

    I keep staring at the picture of the baby and father(?). Either it’s a staged photo or a legitimate candid shot. I can’t decide which is worse. Either the adult is a much worse actor than the infant, or a man cannot contain the rapturous joy of seeing his daughter express mild amusement on a plastic dinosaur.

    • randomfactor

      You should see the similar photo with PZ on the dino.

    • Fred

      Baby happy, father is happy that baby is happy, baby’s happier that daddy’s happy. Feedback cycle results. It doesn’t have to be an sad thing.

  • newavocation

    So where does all the money they already collected go to if the ark isn’t built? Makes you wonder what their motivation really was.

    • randomfactor

      “The Producers.” It was a how-to documentary.

  • icecreamassassin

    They should install a gas line and rename the place Praiseland. That’ll bring in the crowds.

    • Spuddie

      +1 on the obscure Simpsons reference.

  • Rain

    Are zip lines a new fad or something? It doesn’t seem like much of an attraction. A committee must have “brainstormed” it, lol.

    • meekinheritance

      I speculate that someone on the staff with signature authority visited an amusement park that had a zip line (or are there actual museums with zip lines?), enjoyed it immensely, and decided they wanted one.

  • The Other Weirdo

    Yep, he said dragons. The newest kookery imaginative display
    the curators dreamed up purports to show that dragons and dinosaurs are
    probably one and the same beast, and that these creatures lived
    alongside and in relative harmony with humans, who tamed them and in
    some cases saddled and rode them.

    Now I wanna see evidence for this bat-shit crazy bullshit bold assertion. You might be able to stretch dragons and dinosaurs into some beasts mentioned in the bible, but I doubt it works for saddling or riding them.

    Remember, folks, it’s not about what archeology says; it’s about what the Bible says.

    • ElRay

      This is just more of their false equivalency and mis-use of terms. Theory = conjecture/suspicion and plausible = reasonable = logical.

    • JET

      Well, there is all that evidence of saddles in the fossil record…

    • James Nimmons

      I constantly have to remind christians that things like History and Archaeology do not back up their claims…its amazing..

      • kaydenpat

        Not according to the History or Discovery Channels. They have shows about the Bible on them all the time.

    • McAtheist

      And on the seventh day (when it was real late and there wasn’t much to do) the Lord created dragons and zip-lines – just for shits and giggles.

  • cryofly

    What a shame it would be, if a baby tricerotops were to bite that man!

    What a shame it would be, if that kid grows up and calls evolutionary biologists wrong, as she herself is ridden on a triceratops when she was a child!

    What a shame it is, for there exists a ‘creation museum’ in the USA! :(

  • b s

    “To help out, you can buy a peg, a (p)lank, or even a beam”

    Can I buy the plank or beam that is in their own eyes while they are trying to take the speck out of mine?

  • Geoff Boulton

    You’d have thought god would have done something to help them continue getting ‘his’ message out. I guess he must be busy organizing the next Jesus toast appearance.

    • James Nimmons

      lol.. my eyes…the tears!

  • randomfactor

    Shouldn’t they at least claim the zipline is a recreation of Jacob’s ladder or something?

  • busterggi

    Surely money will rain out of the sky to keep them open – if they pray hard enough.

  • C Peterson

    Personally, I’m hoping for some awesome ziplines in heaven, because otherwise, the boredom will kill me. Except it won’t. Hell.

  • Mark Moore

    Twisted science at its best. They should add the alien wing and the exorcism booth and the anointment salon and the baptismal river at the parting waters and the chariot of fire and the big bangless observatory by the unicorn zoo.

  • Fractal Heretic

    I was actually hoping they would finish the ark, so people could see how stupid it is.

  • Louis

    What’s next to spruce up attendance; the creation of a stage how featuring Jesus and The Rockin’ Gospels?

    • Freethinking Canadian

      Personally, I think all of us free thinkers should go there just for the sheer amusement factor. For us it would be like a trip to the ultimate comedy theme park. I think I would probably wet myself laughing at just about everything in there and that would be value for money.

      In fact, we could arrange coach loads of atheists to go there wearing suitable atheist emblems and clothing and walk around the park in small groups eating popcorn.

      We could have contests to find the most outrageous nonsense and win a prize of some cheesy merchandise from their gift shop.

      Ideally, I would love to see them build their Ark. The more obscenely unsupportable and grand their displays of ignorance become the more they will speed up their demise.

    • John (not McCain)

      If it was Jesus and the Nail Knockers, I’d go.

  • bardecendo

    I wonder how the Holy Land Experience in Florida is doing?

    • Antinomian

      Oh goodness! Going there is like a ride in Mr. Peabody’s Way-Back Machine to the land of Fractured Fairy-Tales.

  • Robster

    Their problem is that it’s a churchy sort of thing and everyone breathing knows that church is about as exciting and interesting as watching a car rust. Sure they bling it up a bit with the mechanical animals, lots of sciency looking stuff and a food hall that serves more than wine and wafers but they need more. The Noah’s Ark Park is promising a “Sin City” display! That’s the way to get the punters in, sex, deborchery and other biblical themes could do the trick. They could open a special childrens area for the Catholics.

  • ikt123

    It would help if all the atheists would stop visiting the creation museum to lampoon it and then give it valuable space on a decent website (like this one).

  • joseph66

    May other museums, even natural science museums, are struggling with the same problem.

    So, young atheists are not so interested in science, it seems.