Arts and Culture 2011

Amy Holtcamp

SOUTH CAROLINA INSIDER

 

The Museum of the Week – The Ripley’s Believe it or Not! Museum

Posted 8/3/2011 10:20:00 PM

The Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Museum in Myrtle Beach promises that it is “not your average museum.”

That’s an understatement. This “odditorium” is dedicated to the strange, mysterious, and downright weird. It offers up more than 500 exhibits; each one challenging you to “believe it – or not!”

For many skeptical visitors the answer might be “not.” On one hand, the skeptics are right. Many of the “artifacts” are reproductions and some are pure hokum. However, the outrageous spirit of the attraction can make it a delightful detour for families. The place is filled with teenagers squealing at the sight of shrunken heads and young boys relishing the freakiness of a six-legged cow.

Robert Ripley’s “Believe it or Not” franchise dates back to 1919 when Ripley, a cartoonist and amateur anthropologist, began to use his comic strip to illustrate unbelievable oddities and surprising facts. He first displayed his collection of oddities at the 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago.

Granted, the museum’s sensational presentation is not for everybody. It is certainly not the place for a real exploration of culture or history. Ripley’s is a place for high-spirited fun, not reverence. When I visited kids were howling in horror at the display of torture devices and posing for pictures with the wax figure of the World’s Tallest Man.

Although there’s plenty here that will strain your disbelief, there are some interesting exhibits that can be believed. The museum is actually filled with wild artistic offerings like a scale model of Cleopatra’s barge made entirely of confectioner’s sugar or a portrait of Jesus comprised entirely of handwritten words from the gospel. These works of art might not rival the Mona Lisa, but they are most definitely fascinating.

The Ripley’s Believe it or Not! Museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to midnight. Admission is $14.99 for adults, $7.99 for kids 6-11, and free for children 5 and younger.

Click here for more information.