I have to tell you this month that both the Creation Museum and Ark Encounter have been groaning! But is this a bad thing? Actually, no, the groanings are good things.
OK, let me explain, and then I will share our exciting plans to help deal with this groaning problem.
First of all, both the Creation Museum and Ark Encounter have this groaning problem because so many people are pouring into these God-honoring facilities. The Creation Museum has been groaning a bit more than the Ark Encounter because it was built 14 years ago—and numbers have greatly increased since the opening of the Ark. At both attractions, we need to provide more ways to accommodate all the people who visit (and particularly during the busy seasons), yet at the same time use such opportunities to equip them with the truth of God’s Word and the saving gospel.
We have some exciting plans for the immediate future and vision for further down the road.
So the first groaning is a good problem—what can we do to accommodate the increasing numbers coming to these Christian attractions? Yes, that’s a great problem to have.
The second groaning problem is one that pertains mainly to the Creation Museum. This attraction is the first one we built, and the vision for this facility goes back to the seventies when I was a science teacher in Australia.
The Creation Museum is my favorite of the two attractions. It was the first attraction that resulted from an intense burden from the Lord,
I was so burdened that the museums the students visited taught from an atheistic evolutionary worldview. I cried out to the Lord, asking, “Why can’t we have a creation museum to teach the truth?” In 1980, one of the board members that helped start the ministry in our home in Australia and I stood on a piece of property in Australia and prayed for a creation museum. God answered that prayer by allowing us to build this attraction in Kentucky in 2007. And since then, we have added many exhibits and have greatly enhanced the facility.
Actually, I must admit that the Creation Museum is my favorite of the two attractions. It was the first attraction that resulted from an intense burden from the Lord, but it also has much more in-depth teaching on God’s Word. I actually encourage people to go to the Creation Museum first if they can and then to the Ark Encounter (which, of course, is stunning and impacts thousands of people daily).
So what’s the groaning problem at the Creation Museum? Over the years, we’ve upgraded, replaced, and repaired many aspects of the Creation Museum. But we have come to the place where we need some major work done in two areas.
When we first opened, we didn’t have an auditorium. So after a couple of years, we converted our warehouse into our Legacy Hall auditorium. When we first did this, I told our staff we wanted to wear this auditorium out for the Lord and use it to the max for teaching and other programs to equip people of all ages. Well, we’ve done that, and the sound system, projection system, etc., are nearly all worn out. The technology is difficult to get parts for, and we are filling its capacity on many days. So until we can build a much larger auditorium (part of our future vision), we need to totally refurbish this space. Our plans are to turn the seating configuration 90 degrees, knock out some walls, and put in a new projection and sound system. One of the most important functions we have as a ministry is teaching God’s Word daily to individuals and families through various programs. Legacy Hall is needed for this at the Creation Museum.
The second area that is wearing out is our animal experience and petting zoo facility. Our zoo staff teach about these animals from a biblical worldview for many programs throughout the year. But it’s at the end of its life. We have to replace this soon.
Let me share with you what our plans are to solve these issues that need immediate remedy (which is what our major end-of-year fundraising thrust will be for), and then also share some of our exciting plans for the future.
We are looking to refurbish and expand Legacy Hall, which is a vital teaching center at the Creation Museum.
We plan to construct an Eden Teaching Center, which will consist of a new animal facility, along with a conservatory and associated greenhouses (including a butterfly house) to exhibit the plants of the Bible. This will enable us to help distribute the crowds and focus even more teaching on God’s Word.
The Eden Teaching Center will also include a classroom for biblical-worldview botanical workshops and a fun, interactive dig site where kids can dig up dinosaur fossils.
The Eden Teaching Center will also include a classroom for biblical-worldview botanical workshops and a fun, interactive dig site where kids can dig up dinosaur fossils. One of the greenhouses will specialize in hydroponics that will be used to provide food for the petting zoo animals—this will also be part of our educational programming for all ages.
Associated with the Eden Teaching Center, we will also build an admissions building and welcome center at the Creation Museum entrance (where we currently use a temporary building).
The Holy Land Experience in Florida closed its doors recently and gave us their indoor model of first-century Jerusalem (the biggest indoor model in the US, possibly the world), which was a very popular exhibit. We are going to use the basic plan of this model to take it to a whole new level of quality and exhibit this in its own building at the Ark Encounter.
Once the model is housed and open to our guests, we will work on other phases to greatly enhance the teaching aspect. Because of the popularity of such an exhibit, we know this will also help distribute people at the Ark Encounter as they have another spectacular exhibit to visit. As people visit this model, they will learn more about God’s Word, the time of Jesus, and the message of salvation.
Now all this will certainly need a lot of funding, but as usual, a significant amount of the work is done in-house, so this keeps costs down. This will be our biggest end-of-year fundraising challenge ever. The total amount will be $17 million.
But we already have been given $1 million of seed money to help get it all started and a matching-gift opportunity for half the total. We are asking our supporters to consider contributing toward these projects to help increase the amount of seed money to help us get this all underway as we continue to raise funds.
Once we have completed the above projects, what are our plans for the future?
We plan to build an office building with an auditorium at the front of the museum (we already have planning approval) and turn Legacy Hall and some other current office space into a stunning children’s museum. Wow, I can’t wait for that to happen.
Here is a Master plan showing what we envisage at the Creation Museum:
After we complete the Jerusalem model, the next major attraction, Lord willing, is the Tower of Babel (with teaching on the dispersion from Noah’s three sons and powerfully dealing with racism from a biblical perspective), followed by a replica of Solomon’s temple (with teaching on how this foreshadowed Christ and the saving gospel message). Then a walled city and other facilities teaching various aspects of biblical history.
Here is a Master plan showing what we envisage at the Ark Encounter:
OK, we’re not short on vision! We’re not short on the expertise to make all this happen. We’re not short on land to house the results of this vision. We’re not short on people to come and visit and be impacted.
As you know, your investment in this ministry has resulted in great (and increasing) spiritual impact on tens of millions of people. And again we are asking God’s people to help us reach even more people with the most vital message in the entire universe—the message of the truth of God’s Word and the gospel.
Because these plans are so critical to impacting more and more people with the gospel, our effort to share the opportunity and raise these funds by the end of this year starts now!
Because these plans are so critical to impacting more and more people with the gospel, our effort to share the opportunity and raise these funds by the end of this year starts now! I challenge you to prayerfully consider joining those who have provided the seed money to provide the funds that will allow us to reach more people than ever as we do the business of the King.
Thank you for helping us get these exciting projects underway. God is blessing this ministry in amazing ways!