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 of Moral Compass, a now dormant site that poked fun at the delusional claim by people of faith that a belief in God equips them with superior moral standards. He joined Friendly Atheist in 2013.


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