Avoiding the Barnum-esque Rip-off of the Ark Encounter

Avoiding the Barnum-esque Rip-off of the Ark Encounter July 27, 2017

Ken Ham, the Barnum of young-Earth creationism, offers a sneak-peek at some upcoming “diorama” attractions at his Ark Encounter theme park. This new artwork features a look at the decadent sinners before Noah’s flood enjoying the spectacle of coliseum-style gladiator fights between humans and dinosaurs. This is apparently the Next Big Thing for “scientific creationists.”

A night with Lot in Sodom, better see that twice!
A night with Lot in Sodom, better see that twice!

This image is the product of people who claim to be the staunchest defenders of “reading the Bible literally.” OK, then, chapter and verse? Where exactly does the “literal” biblical justification for this fantasy come from?

But this isn’t just Very Bad Theology, it’s also Very Bad Art. The execution here is as shoddy and hack-like as the attempt to claim it provides “biblical” substance. This “art” is ugly and technically inept — like it came from one of those roadside wax museums that uses drugstore wigs and features unrecognizable “celebrities.”

Plus, it’s not easy to portray a gladiator pit with humans fighting dinosaurs without that scene seeming in any way cool.

For the privilege of basking in the presence of this “artwork” in person, Ham’s “Ark Encounter” midway attraction will charge you $40.

$40 per person (plus parking) is a lot of money to spend to ogle half-assed dreck that is not good or beautiful or true.

Fortunately, you and your family have plenty of other, far better options close by.

The Ark Encounter is located in Williamstown, Kentucky. About an hour north of there, admission is free at the Cincinnati Art Museum, while the Taft Museum only charges $10. The University of Kentucky Art Museum is less than an hour south of Williamstown and their guided tours are free.

Louisville is a longer drive — about 2 hours to the west — but it’s home to the Speed Art Museum. Admission there is $12, but even if you never go in you can just stand outside, admire the building, and witness something more edifying than anything on offer for $40 at Ham’s American Museum. The nearby Carnegie Center for Art & History doesn’t charge admission.

Louisville’s KMAC (Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft) has free admission and just $6 parking — so you can go there, see some dazzling handiwork, and then walk to the nearby Kentucky Science Center ($13 admission) and the Muhammad Ali Center ($12) and the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory ($14). That whole day-trip will still cost you less than Ham charges to ogle his fiberglass dinosaurs and ill-proportioned ante-diluvian gladiators.

Oh, and if the attraction for you is the megafauna, rather than the art, the Big Bone Lick State Park and museum is a mere half-hour drive from Hams Ark Rip-Off. Instead of staring at poorly made papier-mache dioramas for $40, you can go there and see the actual bones of the mammoths, mastodons and ground sloths that lived in that part of Kentucky thousands of years before Ken Ham thinks the universe was created. Plus they’ve got a herd of bison and live bluegrass music.

Note: This post was not sponsored by the Kentucky Department of Travel. Although if it had been, that would have been a much better use of state tourism and development funds than the $18 million in dubious tax breaks Kentucky has provided for the Ark Encounter.

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