Given the reputation bestowed on me as a longtime Godblogger known for trenchant commentary on Evangelical excess, it would seem obvious to write about the Creation Museum. That I live an hour from the museum only ratchets up the obviousness another notch.
But I had not been to the museum since its opening in 2007. Honestly, I wasn’t sure of my need to go, even if nearly every Christian I know in the Greater Cincinnati area had been at least once.
After receiving tickets as a gift (thank you!), my family and I ventured just west of the city airport on a dreary, late December day.
My first thought on entering wasn’t what I thought it would be: Man, what’s with all the Mennonites? I think half the women visitors were in bonnets. And if I didn’t know better, I’d say a few full-fledged Amish were there. Definitely not was I was expecting.
The museum itself is the quintessential example of a postmodern stone and wood design, built with the hope to look natural. It succeeded.
In fact, most everything at the museum succeeded. The displays were informative (albeit sometimes repetitive), the models/figures top notch, the employees friendly, and the general atmosphere of the entire place was…well, nice. In fact, nice pretty much summed up the entire visit.
A few things stood out for good or ill to me:
The displays went to the Mount St. Helens well a bit too often. By that I mean that the destruction caused by that volcano and the subsequent amazing recovery around that area were used repeatedly as an example of catastrophic processes that mirrored the biblical flood, especially as a way to explain rapid canyonization. While I can appreciate that explanation, seeing it time and again didn’t boost the argument.
The quality of the museum met or exceeded that of other museums. Despite already hosting a few million visitors, the museum looked as if it opened yesterday. The staff must also take “cleanliness is next to godliness” literally, because I’m not sure that even a speck of dust escapes purging. Cleanest public place I’ve ever been in.
Dinosaurs on Noah’s ark? Well, I have a hard time accepting that. The museum didn’t come off explaining that one too convincingly, either. And lifesize models of humans cavorting with playful velociraptors felt jarring to me.
Theories about ark construction techniques proved fascinating, and the ark-building display was impressive.
Displays, while first class, were a bit less interactive than some other museums, and I didn’t see that they catered to a wide range of learning types. Text dominated, but all the visuals were well done too.
All models of Eve had the prerequisite long, flowing locks that perfectly covered all her “naughty” bits. (As if there were any other possible display option.)
Scripture quotations were solid. I thought the museum used Scripture correctly and compellingly. Nothing seemed forced. Big thumbs up from me.
The museum definitely put Christianity front and center. This was Christian Apologetics 101 through 612. The walkthrough concluded with a low-key, evangelistic film presentation of Jesus as the Christ.
What wasn’t front and center was a little bothersome to me: theories countering radioactive dating and decay measurements. For some reason, the museum buried its relatively few counterarguments to radioactive dating behind one of the theaters and near their administrative offices. I would think that this critical counterargument data would be in a more prominent place, but it wasn’t. Nor was there much to counter the starlight argument. I expected better.
The museum built its display walkthrough around seven Cs: creation, corruption, catastrophe, confusion, Christ, cross, and culmination. That worked well and proved memorable.
The bookstore was packed with resources containing everything a visitor would need to know about young-Earth creationism. Really, if you can’t find it there, it ain’t made.
While I expected to be gouged at the two dining areas, the prices and food quality were on par with most fast food restaurants. Think Chipotle and Chick-fil-A meet Skyline Chili.
The museum advertises itself as a full-day event, but we cruised through in three hours, including our meal. I’m sure if we’d read every single display in full, it would’ve been a couple hours longer, but we had an eager 10-year-old in tow. I suspect for most families, our time is a decent predictor.
And that brings me to my biggest critique.
In truth, I can’t say anything bad about the museum’s content. You may or may not agree with the basic premise of a young-Earth creation in six, 24-hour days, but the museum makes its case and it is exactly what it bills itself. Some may say that the Creation Museum epitomizes Evangelical excess and a “please like us” mentality, but you know, I won’t go there. If anything, my willingness to want to offer trenchant commentary about those issues became a nonissue.
Where I struggle is the cost. An adult admission runs $25, with kids $22. The planetarium, which I would have liked to have visited, was another $8 per person. The museum shows creationist movies, but some were an additional cost of $3, if I remember correctly.
All that adds up—quickly. Given that I have no compelling reason to return to the museum anytime soon, I wonder how viable it is for the long run. In addition, I noticed that our tickets, received in August, were $3 less than current admission prices. I’m guessing the average family of four could easily drop $175 for the afternoon for all activities and a meal, and that’s without buying anything from the bookstore.
I realize that quality usually costs money. While I admire the Creation Museum’s commitment to quality, boy, that’s a lot of money for a family to spend for what amounts to an afternoon Sunday School lesson.