by Patrick Thomas
Last week I had the great fortune of visiting the Creation Museum for the third time. As I’m currently on sabbatical, I was eager to visit the museum now that I finally have the time to explore some new writing projects, one of which stems from a post I’d written a few years ago for the Righting America blog on a particular part of the Creation Museum, the Wonders Room. I’m especially interested in the role this room plays at the museum as a kind of antechamber to the Creation Museum’s pièce de résistance, the starting point for the museum’s 7 C’s – the garden of Eden.
Unfortunately, I was unable to see the Wonders Room on this visit. In fact, I’m not entirely sure the Wonders Room still exists. This is because the Creation Museum is doing some major renovations to, by my estimation, approximately 25% of the museum displays (half of the displays on the first floor).
Some of the changes are subtle and would be unremarkable for new visitors. For instance, in the Main Hall, the museum previously housed a series of six displays depicting scientific evidence for biblical creation, including live finches (used to make a creationist case for speciation), chameleons (used as evidence for intelligent design), poison dart frogs (used to show how the fall of creation introduced harm into the world), and various plants, fungi, and fossils. All of these are gone.
In a space with so much artifice – historical replicas, mannequins, animatronics, fake plants, etc., it’s sad to see the museum lose some of the more natural displays, although removing them doesn’t seem like a major change.
More remarkable is that all of the rooms leading to the Garden of Eden are no longer accessible, including the Paleontologist Dig Site display, the Starting Points room, Graffiti Alley, Culture in Crisis, the Six Days Theater, and the Wonders Room. Instead, visitors follow a narrow hallway leading directly from the Main Hall to the Garden of Eden. Along the hall, the left wall features some placards from the Starting Points room, and the right wall features small, temporary signs affirming the authority of the Bible in rendering Earth’s history.
Certainly, it’s not uncommon for a museum to change displays. Museums of all kinds have rotating or visiting exhibitions. The Creation Museum also has items on loan from the Museum of the Bible. But that’s not the kind of work the Creation Museum is doing now. And it’s more than one exhibit – the first eight rooms of the Creation Museum are under reconstruction. Talk about different starting points!
Some of the changes at the Creation Museum (for instance, the newer $5 parking charge) are negligible to the experience at the museum, the changes underway raise an important question about the legitimacy of the Creation Museum’s claim about offering a literal reading of Genesis: if the reading of the Bible that the Creation Museum offers is literally true, if the message of the Creation Museum presents a perspicuous teaching of God’s Word, why revise it? What divinely inspired purpose would such revisions fulfill? And whose agenda is served by augmenting or otherwise refashioning the museum?
Okay – that’s three questions.
But to my mind, these questions require answers. The Creation Museum is, purportedly, a museum of earthly history – the history of a young Earth. Are the revisions of the Creation Museum an indication that this history has changed? Or, perhaps, is Answers in Genesis in need of a new story to tell at the Creation Museum?
We’ll have to wait for a few more months to see the changes at the Creation Museum, but for now AiG is raising more questions than answers.