New Creation Museum to Test the Limits of Donors and Attendees?

Just how far can the pocketbooks of donors to young earth creation-based organizations be stretched? We may soon find out as the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) based in Dallas Texas has announced an ambitious new creation museum named the “Dallas Museum of Science and Earth History.” This $24 million dollar project, long in the works, recently launched a donation campaign.   You can read about this new museum here: http://www.icr.org/museum

At present $3.3 million has already been spent to prepare for the project. That leaves over 20 million yet to be raised to complete the project.  Where will those funds come from?

Artistic rendering of the future

Artistic rendering of the future “Dallas Museum of Science and Earth History” situated on the property of the Institute for Creation Research

To put this in perspective, the Ark Encounter, which is the latest project of Answers in Genesis, has already raised, and spent, nearly 23 million dollars. They suggest, via their Ark Encounter website, that they need about 30 million for the entire project leaving them with another 7 million dollars to raise to complete the project.

This is a map of the Ark Encounter

This is a map of the Ark Encounter “complex” when it is complete (2022 in the original plan).  Currently only the Ark itself is under construction along with an entryway and parking lot and support facilities. Image screenshot from Answers in Genesis – see link in article)

The Ark currently under construction in northern Kentucky is a much reduced version of the original Ark Encounter “complex” which originally included many more “attractions” than just Noah’s Ark (see: https://arkencounter.com/about/park-map/) . Phase I originally had an estimated cost of “144,500,000” per the original economic impact planning document. That is far higher than the $30 million being spent on the current project.  That huge discount partly the result of lack of donations and loss of tax incentives from Kentucky the latter still undergoing litigation.

Nonetheless, we are talking millions of dollars all of which must come from donations since neither ICR or AiG generate revenue beyond their operating expenses. Even the Creation Museum, as successful as AiG might claim it to be operates at a loss as far as can be ascertained by IRS 990 forms.  (see my post: Evaluating the State of Creationism: Creationist Finances)

Can the subset of the evangelical Christian community that supports these young earth organizations increase their contributions beyond their historical norms to support these very expensive pet projects? I have my doubts.

Answers in Genesis has claimed their own independently commissioned impact study tells them they will draw fantastic numbers to the Ark Encounter. However, my reading of that document suggests those numbers are based on all or most of the Ark Encounter complex, all $144 million or more of it, being constructed. Since only the Ark itself, admittedly the most important part, is being constructed those numbers are inflated and the Ark is likely to become a greater financial albatross than currently projected.

Did the AiG study consider growing competition for their primary consumers dollars? No they did not. If this new museum in Dallas, TX gets off the ground it will only be because dollars that might have otherwise gone to the Ark Encounter and AiG are now coming to ICR. ICR and AiG have to go after the same pool of people to increase donations. Over the past decade donations to both groups has flattened or even dipped so the fight to increase donations will be a very difficult one.   Already, Henry Morris of ICR and especially Ken Ham of AiG have sent increased numbers of personal pleas for estate donations and other forms of monies. It is unclear just how many more times these organizations can go back to the same well.

Even if both projects are completed, a big if for the new museum in Texas, the two museums will be competing for the same visitors which will inevitably reduce revenues for both over original projections. This will strain their finances even more, requiring more money from donations just for a growing set of operative and infrastructure expenses.

I have not been convinced that the Ark Encounter will be solvent but with increased competition by ICR one has to wonder if any of these projects can thrive or even survive.

Comments

  1. rafaelgalvaodealmeida says:

    All this money could have much better applications, such as missionary work, but instead it’s used to propagate an equivocate view of the Bible and science.

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    • Exactly right. A real travesty that Christian organizations meeting real spiritual and physical needs are barely managing when ICR and AIG can spend millions on what they promote as outreach but is really just preaching to the choir.

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  2. KJ Turner says:

    I know of several YEC researchers who bemoan the fact that so much YEC money goes into theme parks, but so little goes into actual research.

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    • Yes, I know this to be the case as well through personal conversations. The percentage and total $s allocated to research at AiG is very small. What surprised me about the size of the new ICR proposed museum was that I knew that several members of their team have oft complained about AiG ignoring research and so I never figured they had given up the museum business after moving from CA and selling off their small museum there. It is groups like Logos Research Associates that really are having trouble finding funding because AiG is sopping it all up. AiG has sort of lived off the research of other organizations to support their views but is starving that very support system.

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    • “Research”? AHHahaha! as if they do any actual research to begin with.

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  3. I mean Young-Earth Creationism is a dinosaur.

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  4. This is interesting, your story seems to be a scoop, at least on the Internet. Even BioLogos refers to you as the source of the story. It is written plain on the ICR site but it seems to be completely disregarded by the people that you would expect to be commenting on it.

    I have been looking around to see what else is in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. The Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas is 10 stories high, cost $185 million, and opened in 2012 (but goes back much earlier). This place is seriously impressive. Then there is the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, another large and real museum. If you want a planetarium, dinosaurs, fossil-digs etc. then these are the places to go.

    ICR actually has local competition from the Creation Truth Foundation in the form of The Museum of Earth History, Dallas – more dinosaurs and the usual garbled creation science nonsense.

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    • Thanks for the comment. Very interesting. I had totally forgotten about the Creation Truth Foundation museum in Dallas. It seems like a pretty slick place that had plans to expand but the are on hold. Probably on hold forever with the ICR museum going forward.

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  5. Stop complaining, moaners. God’s got all the riches He needs. If He wants to build a creation park/museum, then it’s to bring Him glory. I can’t wait to go!

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