Temporarily opened at a private dedication ceremony this evening (which we’ll report on next week) and located in the Answers in Genesis Creation Museum, the Dragon Hall Bookstore offers visitors not only a wealth of Bible-affirming science, worldview and family resources, but also the opportunity to step into a unique environment. In addition to helping fulfill AiG’s apologetic mission, it will serve as an important part of the Creation Museum.
This past week, I had the privilege of touring the bookstore and speaking with John Bartlett, the bookstore’s manager.
Approaching the bookstore from the Creation Museum lobby, I am met by a large pterosaur perched atop a nest on what appears to be a solid rock outcropping from the surrounding wall. Dragon Hall Bookstore is emblazoned underneath in well-worn irony letters, prompting my first question to Bartlett: what inspired the dragon theme of the store?
“The store is designed to fit directly with the dinosaur theme of the museum, and to specifically highlight the prominence of dragon legends,” Bartlett tells me. Bartlett is referencing the connection between dinosaurs and dragons—that the many dragon legends found in civilizations around the world describe dinosaurs almost to a T, clearly indicating that our ancestors were familiar with what we now call “dinosaurs.” (For more information, see What Really Happened to the Dinosaurs? and Dinosaurs and the Bible.)
Bartlett continues. “Originally, the bookstore concept was one of ‘bugs and books.’ But the dragon theme helps tie the store in with the rest of the museum.”
Walking through the entrance into the bookstore, I feel swept away into centuries past. I am surrounded by towering bookcases, mammoth brick walls, and, to my left, an incredible pillared bas-relief sculpture (by AiG artist Travis Wilson) of St. George’s duel with the dragon. The story of St. George’s dragon encounter, one of many dragon legends, highlights the store’s theme. Engraved above the relief is a short form of the story.
Turning around, I see two beautiful circular stained glass windows, both featuring dragons prominently. Best-selling AiG books and DVDs are on the well-lit shelves nearby. The room is nothing short of striking! “What will meet the eyes of visitors to this bookstore?”
“People who come here will be met with unparalleled quality in the workmanship, especially in this store versus other bookstores—quality above the norm,” Bartlett replies. “The store will be very inviting, because of the warm colors and textures. The store is designed to resemble the library of a large English manor, with a ‘light Gothic’ influence—like the library one might find in a fantasy novel.”
“Was this store based on other bookstores that you’ve seen?” I ask.
“No, not really,” Bartlett begins. “Of course, there will be certain parallels, especially to other museum shops; however, the design was based not as much on retail locations, but rather on photos of European architecture.”
In the main section of the store is the checkout station, and hanging above is a beautiful large candelabrum that appears to weigh several hundred pounds. “How is the bookstore organized?”
“There is no static ‘flow’ to the bookstore, as the layout will change once the museum opens. With all our displays, we try to keep in mind that this will be the last point of contact most visitors have with us before they leave the museum,” Bartlett says. “We’ll have our bestsellers and latest products featured prominently near the entrance, with other products in their respective sections—children’s, layperson’s, technical, etc.” Bartlett adds that the Dragon Hall Bookstore already has over ten times the product base as the temporary AiG bookstore did, and that number will rise as time passes. “In addition to our standard lay-level science books, we’ll offer gift books, coffee table books, technical books (including Bible dictionaries and reference books), curricula and translations, plus items related to the museum, like postcards, gift items and apparel.”
I eye a menacing beast looking as though it is about to roar from one of the smaller bookshelves. “What will the store offer for kids?”
“Right now, various children’s books and DVDs. However, soon we will offer an even wider range of products, such as science experiments for kids and products that tie-in with the planetarium, nature trail and other parts of the museum experience.”
Near the ceiling on the walls above is a collection of hand-painted shields, each fitting inside a gap between archwork. The shields look as though they were pulled straight from the 12th century. Bartlett tells me that the themes, colors and patterns on these shields are based on hours of research on authentic shields of the Middle Ages.
Against one wall, in-between sections marked “Classics” and “The History Book of the Universe,” is a large fireplace surrounded by several easy chairs. Although the fireplace isn’t real, it looks quite convincing. Bartlett informs me that the flat-panel TV mounted above will eventually feature a special DVD custom-made for the store that will discuss dragon legends and the true history of dinosaurs.
“Do you expect many repeat visitors?” I ask.
Bartlett smiles. “Yes, because there will be some similarities between this store and a ‘regular’ Christian bookstore, like Bibles, Bible reference books, homeschooling curricula, family materials, financial resources and so forth.”
“What about visitors who disagree with AiG?” I ask probingly. “What will their experience be like?”
Bartlett thinks for a moment. “At the very least, they’ll see the breadth and depth of the resources we offer and, of course, the dragon theme and how it ties in with the museum. They’ll also find consistent quality in the workmanship here. And in fact, virtually all the major pieces of the store were designed and constructed on-site by AiG fabricators.”
“What innovations can we expect in the future?”
“One idea we have in mind, in addition to keeping up with the latest retail technologies, is called ‘my shopping basket’,” Bartlett answers. “There will be information kiosks throughout the museum that will, among other things, display resources related to the museum displays. We’d like to offer visitors the option to select products they’re interested in at these kiosks, generating a ‘wish list’ that is forwarded electronically to the store. Then, when the visitor arrives at the store after touring the museum, that list—or even, as time permits, the actual products you’ve selected—will be waiting for you.
Thanking Bartlett for his time, I leave, still feeling overwhelmed by the store’s incredible appearance: it’s a bookstore like none I’ve ever seen before. “Anyone with the idea of bookstores as boring places needs to visit this place,” I think to myself as I exit.
All of us at AiG thank God for the resources—both financial gifts and talented designers and fabricators—He has given us to help us complete the Creation Museum, an edifice dedicated to proclaiming His truth. If you would like to support the Creation Museum effort, why wait? Donate now or join the museum as a member. And if you want to get our newest resources but can’t make it to the Dragon Hall Bookstore, visit our online Answers Bookstore instead!