The defunct Hall of Exploration of Baltimore's Columbus Center is slated for reincarnation--in a creationism museum near Cincinnati. The hall, part of an ambitious complex including a museum and research labs, closed in December 1997, a victim of poor attendance. But many of its exhibits, including an 8-meter model of a cell, will be featured by Answers in Genesis, a fundamentalist ministry based in Florence, Kentucky, in a brand-new $11 million museum. Called Genesis Park, it's designed to give a "walk-through history of the world according to the Bible."
In addition to exhibits on surprisingly rapid movements of tectonic plates and fatal flaws in radiometric dating, the group plans to display its collection of 70 life-sized dinosaur models, handcrafted for them by a Christian taxidermist. "We frankly want to capitalize on people's fascination with dinosaurs," says Answers in Genesis founder Ken Ham. Because dino fossils show evidence of cancer and other diseases, Ham explains, they cannot predate Adam and Eve's fall from grace, before which there was no sickness or death. He says the dragons and the "behemoth" mentioned in the Old Testament may well have been dinosaurs.
The group considers its prize catch to be 16 truckloads of exhibits from the Columbus Center, including the giant cell and a 14-meter rockfish, purchased at a public auction. "It's ironic," admits Steve Berberich, a spokesperson for the University of Maryland's Center of Marine Biotechnology, which was closely associated with the center. But "that's just the way it goes."
Answers in Genesis has had a hard time finding a site, having lost an earlier zoning battle because of opposition from scientists and secular humanists. But last month it got approval to build an 8700-square-meter headquarters complex, including the museum, located on an interstate a few kilometers west of the Cincinnati airport. If all goes as planned, Genesis Park, which its founders say will be the largest creationism museum in the United States, will open its doors within 2 years.