It’s sad to be leaving Skepticon, one of the best conferences around, especially since my time in Springfield had to be so brief this time around. Also, I think I broke some of the audience with my talk this year (comments afterwards: “You made my brain hurt.” “I didn’t understand anything you said, but I enjoyed it anyway.” “Rebecca Watson’s talk had more sex in it.”) But I do have happy news to report.
The Creation Museum in Petersburg, Ky., created quite an uproar in 2007 when it opened with exhibits showing early humans co-existing with dinosaurs. Five years later, the public fascination with that take on paleoanthropology seems to be fading.
This week, the museum told CityBeat that attendance for the year ended June 30 came to 254,074. That amounts to a 10 percent drop from last year’s 282,000 and is the museum’s fourth straight year of declining attendance and its lowest annual attendance yet. The $27 million museum drew 404,000 in its first year and just over 300,000 each of the next two.
Also, Answers in Genesis reported a net loss in 2011! I’ve mentioned before that their fund-raising to build the Ark Park is also stalling out. I don’t expect them to completely collapse and fold up, but I think they will follow the trajectory of most of the creation “museums” I’ve seen: they go static and dead and dusty, repeating the same stories over and over again, and the likelihood of repeat visits begins to fade away. The lack of substance tells; they lack the dynamism of real working museums and can’t bring up new data or substantively new exhibits.
They say the Creation “Museum” is still operating at a profit, but that profit is declining year by year. And if AiG itself is losing money, think about the consequences when their great big expensive-to-maintain-and-operate facility stops being a cash cow and becomes the dinosaur they’ve been saddled with — it could get interesting.
It may not be possible to underestimate the intelligence of the American public, but it’s still possible to bore them.