10. November 2011 01:53
Aquariums are some of my favorite places to visit as I travel around the country. There's sometime about coming face-to-face with exotic ocean creatures that thrills me in a way that museums and historic sites simply can't.
At Newport Aquarium, part of Newport on the Levee in Northern Kentucky, I got an up-close glimpse at hundreds of creatures, both domestic and exotic. This million-gallon aquarium features nine main exhibits, which give visitors opportunities to see marine animals from both local freshwwater and faraway oceans. The most exciting section of the aquarium is the "Surrounded by Sharks" tank, a wrap-around exhibit that has visitors walking through clear acryilic tunnels in a ginat tank as eight or nine species of sharks swim above and around their heads. It's the closest you'll ever come to deep-sea immersion without a wetsuit, and the closest you'd ever want to be to these critters without a shark cage.
I also enjoyed exhibits that showcased some of the aquarium's less ferocious residents. My co-worker Stacey and I stood mesmerized at the "Kingdom of the Penguins" exhibit, watching these lumbering birds plop off of the rocks and glide through the water with effortless ease and impressive speed. In the aquarium's aviary, we got up close to parrots and other colorful, exotic birds that pearched in low tree branches just above our heads. Some other visitors stopped to pose for pictures with the birds, who stood gently on their outstretched fingers.
My favorite display, though, was the jellyfish. These simple, translucent creatures simply amaze me — you can see right through their bodies, watching their heads undulate and their long, whispy tentatcles flutter as they ply their way through the water. The dark environment and neon lights behind the tanks give the jellies an otherworldly glow. And when you think about it, a visit to the aquarium is as close to another world as most of us will ever dare to venture.
Up close with exotic birds.
A facinating world of darkness and neon light in the jellyfish exhibit.
10. November 2011 01:22
I visited the Creation Museum last week as part of a daylong editorial research trip in Northern Kentucky. There's a lot to think about in a museum that deals with such weighty subject matter as the origins of human existence and the search for absolute truth; at the end of the visit, though, two main thoughts filled my mind.
First, I was very pleasantly surprised by the scope and quality of this museum. Some museums that are closely tied to faith are also seen as haphazard or amateur, but the display design and educational content in this museum stand up to other major natural history museums in the U.S. And the museum planners didn't skimp on their vision — this $27 million facility features a planetarium, a theater, two cafes and a number of impressive dioramas and animatronic exhibits. Throughout the exhibits, the museum makes a clear, cogent case for creationism, dealing with questions about evolution, the fossil record, Noah's flood and dinosaurs, with displays that will please both casual visitors and those seeking scientific answers. The idea perpetuated by some critics that this museum is but a naive, superstitious Christian attraction is simply untrue.
The quality of the museum and its exhibits led to my second main thought as I left: If this facility were dinky, cheap, unscientific or poorly put together, it would be very easy to write it off and ignore the message of its content. But because the exhibits are thorough, compelling and well-presented, they engender a real dialogue about the origins of our universe. The Creation Museum has many enthusiastic fans — and also plenty of outspoken critics — but the fact that it is a controversial attraction doesn't diminish the importantece of its subject matter. If nothing else, the greatest success of this place may be that it forces visitors to deal with very important questions about human life, God and the search for eternal meaning. A visit to this museum makes honest thinkers seriously consider what they believe, and why they believe it.
A room-sized exhbit depicts the construction of Noah's ark.
This exhibit presents numerous natural phenomenon that seem to defy evolutionary theory.
The museum takes a firm (and controversial) stand about the source of truth and morality in the world.