It would seem that those who have given up looking for the remains of the actual Noah’s Ark have decided to build it themselves. You may have heard of this Dutch guy, whose traveling Ark exhibit features “real size polyester animals and interesting scientific information on Noah’s flood.” Doesn’t seem either very scientific or very Dutch, but maybe the Flood is a more resonant possibility in a country that’s halfway under water.
In the 1950s, Florida entrepreneur claimed that the Garden of Eden was in the Panhandle, and that Noah used a local tree, the Torreya yew, to build his Ark. There was talk of building an Ark replica near his Garden of Eden Park (admission: $1.10), but as far as I can tell it never happened.
Then there’s God’s Ark of Safety, built by a pastor in Maryland starting in 1976. Part of the point of Noah’s Ark seems to be how long it takes to build. The Ark of Safety Web site gives a painstakingly detailed account of the construction process: “Steel reinforcement rod was needed and God spoke to a man to donate it.” Salvation must be possible, but it can’t be too easy, or everyone would do it.
Of course the ever-fascinating Creation Museum has a major Noah’s Ark exhibit (see video here), with dozens of animatronic human figures endlessly reproducing the actions of Ark-building over and over again. The woman weaving the basket (to keep smaller animals in, perhaps?) looked to be modeled exactly on Natalie Portman. I say “of course” because Noah’s Ark is a major theological linchpin for creationists–it helps explain why most remnants of what they consider God’s “first creation”, including the Garden of Eden, have been wiped out. It’s a major example of what God can do to punish human sin.
You know Ark-building is a cultural phenomenon when it appears in an episode of CSI:NY. A zealot built a boat in his backyard, convinced a bunch of people the world was ending, and then when it didn’t, they murdered him. People do all kinds of crazy things in New York, of course, but I’m surprised anyone has the space to build an Ark to scale. A clip of an incredulous CSI interviewing brainwashed Ark-cult members is here.
And for the non-brainwashed among us, who just enjoy the concept of a large boat floating on lots of water, there’s Noah’s Ark Water Park, in Wisconsin. Appropriately, it’s the world’s largest water park.