Over the Christmas break, my wife and I spent a few days with our son and his family in Ipswich and, while there, went with them to visit The Ark that is currently berthed on the waterfront.
This ark, which claims to be “the world’s only floating exhibition of Bible stories”, is a half-sized replica of Noah’s original boat and “an educational and cultural celebration of many of the Bible’s legendary stories. From Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David and Goliath and countless more, this quirky, creative, and extraordinary space is an experience visitors will never forget….Covering 2,000 square metres and 4 floors, the biblical stories are brought to life through an array of unique wooden carved sculptures.”
It is certainly an impressive piece of work and clearly a labour of love, but, having toured it, we came away confused and disappointed. The problem is that in among all the biblically factual elements there are too many things that betray the designer’s own quirky imagination and sense of humour and these have the effect of undermining the integrity of much that is good and true. The exhibition is, in places, more religious than strictly Christian, with, for example, exhibits of confessionals and quite a lot of iconography. At one point, at least, there is even a reference to the world being millions of years old, something that is, of course, completely inconsistent with the inspired biblical record
Our 20 month old granddaughter, for obvious reasons, loved the plethora of stuffed animals but it wasn’t a terribly useful teaching aid for the biblical record of the flood. Anyone visiting this exhibition, perhaps with a group of children from a church or school, would need to spend quite a lot of time explaining and even contradicting the displays if they wanted to be faithful to the biblical account.
I appreciate that it’s a lot further away, and I’ve never been there myself, but if you want a good biblically consistent experience of Noah’s Ark, I am confident that The Ark Encounter near Kentucky, USA, a ministry of Answers in Genesis, would be much more worthwhile.