Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Believe It or Not: Oddities on View at the Science Center Can Educate, Too

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Believe It or Not: Oddities on View at the Science Center Can Educate, Too

Article excerpt

Believe it or not!

Tiny sculptures that fit in the eye of a needle! Real shrunken heads! A Rolls-Royce made of matchsticks!

Believe it: You can see all this and more, now through the end of the year, in "The Science of Ripley's Believe It or Not!" at the St. Louis Science Center.

The exhibition is a co-production of Ripley Entertainment and Science North, which puts together traveling shows for science museums. "We found that a lot of our artifacts can be seen in a different light, a scientific light," says Doug Rutledge, the head of traveling shows for Ripley, based in Orlando, Fla.

That means that, along with the taxidermied remains of Star, the calf with two faces, there are facts about genetics, and about twins. There's a selfie stop that allows visitors to pose with their faces smiling through a spelunker's helmet, atop a bright orange suit; behind it, there's a display on crystals. And with the shrunken heads which are hidden away behind a wall; it is not possible to glance at them accidentally there's a video on how they were made. (Don't try this at home.)

The exhibit is divided into multiple areas that focus on different interests. Just outside is the world's smallest operational car, a red electric three-wheeler. (A museum employee who took it for a spin reported some ventilation issues.) Once inside, a fangless model of a giant prehistoric snake, the stuff of nightmares for some, presents a wriggle-through opportunity for smaller children.

There's work by Willard Wigan, a British artist who carves tiny sculptures, mounted under microscopes for viewing them. Nearby are portraits made of unusual ingredients: the famous photo of Albert Einstein sticking his tongue out, rendered in toast; Benjamin Franklin, composed of computer keys; Justin Bieber, portrayed in small round sweets.

"The traveling exhibitions are designed to reach new audiences, and to have a changing gallery for our member base of local visitors," says Jackie Mollet, managing director of visitor services at the science center.

She adds, "The Ripley's exhibition encourages curiosity. That's the 'believe it or not' part: Visitors are asked to investigate, to ask 'Did this really happen, or is it not believable?'"

The traveling shows are displayed in Boeing Hall, where there's 7,500 square feet of exhibit space. "If you go through the whole thing and spend a little time at each exhibit, you'll have a rich experience," Mollet says. "You'll feel you've had a chance to learn about the world of Robert Ripley."

It was quite a world. LeRoy Robert Ripley (1890-1949) was born in Santa Rosa, Calif., and first intended to make a career as a baseball player. An injury threw him a curve and sent him toward cartooning, where he first drew sports subjects. A "believe it or not" segment took off, says Rutledge, and Ripley had a new and profitable direction in life. …

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