Saturday, May 26, 2007

Telling stories

On Monday in Pettersburg, Kentucky the $27 million Creation Museum opens to the public. Owned and operated by the religious group Answers in Genesis, the 60,000 square foot museum has been designed "to bring the pages of the Bible to life". To do this it promises “A fully engaging, sensory experience for guests. Murals and realistic scenery, computer-generated visual effects, and a special-effects theatre complete with misty sea breezes and rumbling seats.” The Museum has already attracted a lot of media coverage focused on dinosaurs being created on the Sixth Day along with Adam and Eve etc, but probably of more interest is how perfectly contemporary museum methods take on the task of telling this version of the story of stories. From our experience, when museums set out to tell stories – whether of science, art, the Bible or of nations – not all the tech bells and whistles in the world are going to make them come true.

In a familiar refrain, Ken Ham, president of the Answers in Genesis ministry, (who incidentally developed his ideas in Australia before moving to the U.S. in 1987) reminded everyone: “Critics need to tour the museum before making judgments.” Sure. But by then, of course, it is too late.
Image: A museum preparator creating a display showing a dinosaur attempting to eat a giant golf ball after stepping off the Ark.