Louisville Magazine

JAN 2017

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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52 LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 12.16 mis were exploding out of fissures that cleaved the globe. Somewhere within the violence of the storm I heard men and women drowning at sea — wails of the dying lost under the waves. I kept turning down the hall, into an obstacle course of boxlike cages ventilat- ed with grilles of bamboo thatching, on stands that rose higher than our heads. is was the gallery where the Ark's smaller animals nested. e lighting was dim, and the noises replicated a stroll through the Amazon basin — squawks and deep-throated screeches and claws scampering across wooden floors. I entered an open space like a refur- bished granary. e wracking thunder and jungle cacophony faded, and that slow beat of cymbals that had been playing as I stood in line resumed, like braceleted arms beckoning us into some sultan's perfumed chamber. EXIT signs flared red against blond boards, gleam- ing under chandeliers that looked like they could have been bought at some nouveau-barbaric section of Pottery Barn. (ese lights were electric, but an exhibit I saw surmised that, on the real Ark, Noah might have used lamps that burned olive oil.) Cages larger than the ones I'd already seen had been built into the walls, and inside the first one I peered into were two models of what looked like huge prehistoric turtles without shells. Gray, the color of rump roast left too long in a freezer, they seemed remarkably life- like. For a moment, I expected them to turn their depthless eyes toward me, or wobble over and nuzzle my hand. Deer, gazelles, warthogs, azhdarchids all stared out at the crowds from within other cages. Patrick Marsh later explained how his team designed the animals. If they wanted to make a hippo, they created the taxidermy form on the computer, carved it out of foam, built a hard coat over it and poked each of its hairs into place. "ey're all hand-sculpted," Marsh said. "Every animal takes about two months to do." Marsh used to work for Universal Studios, where he was the art director for the King Kong attraction, among others, before joining Answers in Genesis. "I believe in what the Bible has to say," Marsh told me. "So it wasn't too big a jump going from Los Angeles to here. It's just a little more outside the mainstream than Universal Studios." e people under him are qualified to be hired in the movie industry, and some 50 artists and sculptors worked together in the shop — 24 hours a day leading up to the opening. "We're still not finished," Marsh said. "We've been working on the Ark for probably close to 10 years, from the first concept to what you see today." I read the museum-style posters on the walls. Fish would have been fine during the flood, one said, because a lot of marine species thrive in both fresh- water and saltwater; polar bears would have survived, too, because they don't need to live in a subzero climate ("many warm-weather zoos house polar bears"); large animals could fit in the Ark given that it was bigger than people think, and most dinosaurs "were smaller than bison, even as adults"; and 99 percent of all species have not gone extinct, as evolu- tionary biologists claim: "e amount of documented extinct species only numbers in the thousands — not in the millions or billions." e first deck didn't have much on it — cages and posters, a snack bar that sold chips and soda and coffee, plat- forms recessed into the walls stuffed with hemp bags (probably filled with some species-neutral foodstuff like grain). Walking the floor took me less than two minutes. I made a few loops before climbing the wheelchair-accessible ramps that zigzagged up through the levels. On the second deck, people posed in front of a huge door, their kids grasping the han- dles and swinging upside-down. Nearby, a poster ("e Door") read: "Noah and his family entering the Ark through the door reminds us of the good news of Je- sus Christ. Just as God judged the world with the Flood, He will judge it again, but the final judgment will be by fire. We have all sinned against our Creator and deserve the penalty of death (Revelation 20:14)." Underneath that: I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. Rows of stalls like those in barns featured exhibits, including one called "Fairytale Ark." Above the entrance was a wooden craft stuffed with animals that looked like Disney characters — a monkey swinging from a giraffe's tail; a toucan perched on an elephant whose trunk trumpeted the air, white birds sheering off into a rainbow. Children's books — Ark Angels, Lark in the Ark, Noah's Noisy Ark — lined shelves behind glass, and two signs hung on the walls. A serpent with a pulpy eye and red scales like bloody metal coiled around one sign, tongue flashing near the words: "If I can convince you that the Flood was not real, then I can convince you that heaven and hell were not real." Opposite, the other sign read: "And everyone died except the 8 people in the Ark." Outside the entrance to another exhibit, "e Pre-Flood World," a mural showed silhouettes of a man and a woman standing waist-deep in a water- fall pool, while a herd of brachiosauri towered over a forest. Posters displayed the days of creation, all the way to Day Six, when mastodons and a wild dog and two baby dinosaurs and that same clique of brachiosauri gathered around Adam and Eve, who looked northern European and in shape, like they went to the gym a lot and had cut out carbs. (Later, at the Creation Museum, Answers in Gene- sis' other major project, I learned that animals in Eden were vegetarian, which explained Adam and Eve's low body-fat percentage.) e Pre-Flood World was In front of me, a woman with a pageboy haircut held the hand of a little boy. Pointing , she said, "ere were once giants in the Earth. Did you know that, buddy?" "ere were?" the boy said. "A long time ago. Yep. It's in the Bible."

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