If you are interested in seeing real bones from one of the oldest dinosaurs on earth, looking at extensive mineral or insect collections, or listening to an animatronic Methuselah or Noah talk about God’s judgment in the flood, then the Creation Museum would get your attention.
The Petersburg, Ky., museum has seen almost two million visitors come through its doors in the six years since it opened. Only around 600 visitors are in the sprawling facility on a slow day, but up to 4,000 people will be on the grounds on a busy summer day or during the Christmas season.
Founded by Ken Ham and Mark Looy, the popular Creation Museum is part of the growing Answers in Genesis (AIG) ministry. Ham now serves as president and CEO, while Looy is Chief Communications Officer.
Ham is the visionary behind the project. Looy explained Ham’s background. “He began as a teacher in Australia who noticed the large number of young people leaving the faith because the Bible was under attack – usually the book of Genesis.” His class instruction included taking his students to science museums where evolution was presented as fact. Ham was not pleased with the unbalanced views of evolutionists.
Creation Museum photo
Ken Ham, president and CEO of Answers in Genesis (AIG) ministry, poses with a dinosaur at the Creation Museum, one of AIG’s ministries.
“That’s what really grieved him – to see young people leaving the church. Eventually Ken co-authored a book called Already Gone, on why so many young people were leaving the church,” Looy said.
“If you get to know Ken’s heart, one of the reasons he’s in ministry is because of young people who have been ‘evolutionized.’ That’s why this museum is so child-friendly. It’s from Ken’s background as a public school science teacher.”
Throughout the museum animatronic dinosaurs and life-like, animatronic humans are operating around you, emitting sounds and talking to you. Every age level connects with the impressive, Disney-like animations, biblical presentations and scientific information on display.
There is a video-driven planetarium where you lean back in reclining chairs and look at the ceiling. State-of-the-art, digital images of the universe are impressively projected on a domed ceiling. Four high-tech, digital planetarium programs are shown, including the signature program, “Created Cosmos” and another on comets.
Ham calls the facilities “first class and professional. Our attitude is, why should the secularists always do things in a first class way and not the Christians? Christians should do everything in a first class way.” His goal is noticeably accomplished as visitors walk in fascination through the museum.
Looy added, “Even our detractors say that our artistic team hit a home run on this. This is not a stodgy or stuffy museum. … The evolutionists who don’t care for us, even they will say this is the slickest museum they have ever seen.”
The museum covers 75,000 square feet. It takes about 8 hours to see everything.
Ham said, “Last year after listening to our supporters, we changed the tickets. They said, ‘We can’t see it all in one day. I want to come back here a second day.’” Now every ticket is good for two days.
“Christians more and more are realizing that a lot of the secular places you go to are blatantly evolutionary and blatantly pagan in what they do. Here, we want to have a high quality Christian facility for people,” Ham said.
AIG conducts about 200 seminars and workshops in a 220-seat auditorium, along with unique programs in the special effects theater.
The building also houses the AIG offices for about 300 staff, radio and television studios, an observatory and a restaurant. On the 49-acre property guests enjoy a rain forest, petting zoo, koi ponds, waterfalls, camel rides and even ziplines.
Ham was excited to talk about the ziplines. A company that supports their ministry is in the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest ziplines.
“They came here and said, ‘we want to help you attract a broader range of people and continue to increase this as a Christian facility,’” he explained. They installed 27 ziplines, including two that Ham described as, “super-mega ziplines that are 1,800 feet long.” There are 12 skybridges and a kids’ zipline, also.
“Actually it is the biggest and best zipline in the Midwest,” he said, “and there’s nothing else like it close to here, so it’s just absolutely incredible. We’re now seeing a broader range of people coming [to the museum].”
New material is regularly added to the museum.
“We were just donated an Allosaurus skeleton,” Ham said. “It’s like a T-rex, (Tyrannosaurus rex) but smaller. It is one of the best preserved skulls ever found.” The large predatory dinosaur gives evidence of the Old Testament global flood. The fossil is believed to be one of the four best-preserved Allosaurus skulls ever discovered. It was unearthed in South Dakota and donated by a Christian foundation.
Affectionately called Ebenezer, the dinosaur probably stood 10-feet high and 30-feet long. Its teeth averaged over four inches in length. Fifty-three of those teeth are still in place in the fossil.
Ham hopes skeptics will come to the museum and see the witness of truth through quality presentations and factual information. The facility is open every day of the year except Thanksgiving and Christmas days.
The plan is to take each visitor through the seven “C’s” of history: Creation, Corruption (the fall of Adam and Eve), Catastrophe (the flood of Noah’s time), Confusion (the tower of Babel), Christ, the Cross, and Consummation (end times).
“As you enter the museum, you are going to take a walk through history according to the Bible – Genesis to Revelation,” Looy said.
“Most of what you see is from the book of Genesis, because that is where the Bible is most under attack. But there is a section on the New Testament, including a film on the life of Christ. What we are doing here is overcoming censorship.
“Some of the initial rooms make you think. What do you really know about the Bible? How do you know if it was translated correctly? What do you really know about creation and evolution? This gets people to thinking about those things, then they start their walk through history.” Looy said the bottom line for everyone is, “Man’s word or God’s Word? What is our authority?”
A tour of the museum demonstrates that, “Creationists and evolutionists have the same evidence. We have the same dinosaur bones. It has everything to do with interpretation,” according to Looy.
“Bones don’t speak for themselves. These bones don’t tell you how old they are. You have to interpret the evidence according to your worldview. So, creationists and evolutions rarely disagree over facts – it’s how they are presented in the worldview that makes all the difference.”
The staff includes master craftsmen, horticulturalists, a PhD biologist, a PhD geologist, and a PhD astronomer. Ham points out that “all are Bible-believing Christians. Every one of them signs a statement of faith [including] six literal days, a young earth … We have about 300 staff – some of the most talented people you will ever find.”
AIG has another ambitious project on the table. A theme park will be built around a full reproduction of Noah’s ark on 800 acres off Interstate 75. Ark Encounter will be built in 4 phases, the first scheduled to open in the spring of 2016.
“The park will show the evil world before the flood and Noah preaching to the people,” Ham said. “It will include live animals that will go up a ramp into the ark several times a day.” The Towel of Babel will be built in the park in a future phase.
The designer and master planner of the park is Patrick Marsh, who worked for Universal Studios and helped in the design of theme parks around the world, according to Looy.
“He knows how to create things that are attractive. He is a creative genius and has some wonderful, talented people working with him.”
Almost every media outlet in the world has come to the museum. “Even Al Jazeera has been here twice,” Looy said. A CNN reporter once asked Ham what the museum is all about. He said, “We are here to tell that the Bible is true from Genesis to Revelation, and the gospel is also true.”
The startled CNN reporter said, “You admit it? You admit that you are here to proclaim biblical truths?” When Ham said, “Yes,” the reporter replied, “That’s refreshing, because we talk to so many ministry leaders who don’t honestly say what they are all about.”
“The secular media often ask how we get the kind of [staff] we have and I say, ‘God brought the animals to Noah and He brought these people to us,’” Ham said.