It’s been a fairly profitable time to be promoting Eurocentric and Biblically literalist historical narratives, to judge by the buildings going up in honor of pre-Victorian views of Christendom. In Washington, the privately funded Museum of the Bible is set to open soon near the Mall, despite the continuing controversy over how the museum filled its collections. Last week, Hobby Lobby, the company whose controlling family is also funding the Bible museum, agreed to pay millions of dollars in fines after federal prosecutors determined that the company had purchased smuggled cuneiform artifacts for the museum. Since the bombshell report, new revelations have come to light about the company’s efforts to obtain even more Near Eastern artifacts with little or no concern about their provenance.
Meanwhile, Ken Ham and the Ark Encounter Noah’s Ark theme park are blaming the local government in Kentucky for not giving them enough free money and government support to maximize profits from the Ark. While all signs suggest that the Ark replica is pulling in some serious coin (it attracted 1 million visitors in its first year), Ham is casting blame in the apparent hope of securing more support from local authorities for his planned Tower of Babel attraction. Ham blames atheists and the mainstream media for casting his park as a failure: “Sadly, they (atheists and the secular media) are influencing business investors and others in such a negative way that they may prevent Grant County, Kentucky, from achieving the economic recovery that its officials and residents have been seeking.” For its part, the county reported that the promised profits from the park never showed up in government coffers.
But perhaps most interesting is the creation of a small new visitor’s center at Kensington Rune Stone Park, built with the input and consultation of former television personality Scott Wolter, and with the goal of creating a center for displaying the “true” story of the Kensington Rune Stone, a Victorian hoax purporting to be a medieval record of a Norse expedition from Vinland to Minnesota, as interpreted by believers in its supposed medieval authenticity.
According to an article last month in the Echo Press,
When complete, the visitor center will include a community room, lobby, outdoor patio, bathrooms and more. The 1,100-square foot community room will hold small gatherings of 50 to 75 people. The building will stay accessible year-round, so it may serve as a warming area for families using the sledding hill.
It’s good to know that when it comes to rewriting history and creating a monument to the brave Templars who colonized Minnesota for white Europeans, bathrooms are a major focus of the building, and the history of the rune stone will be displayed in an area that is about the same size as my living room and dining room.
Needless to say, Wolter was enthusiastic about the miniature museum space: “Because both Darwin Ohman and I provided technical and historical input into the design of the displays and interpretive information to be presented, we can tell you it is going to be an excellent educational tool. I know the public will be impressed and very proud of this state-of-the-art facility that will tell the story about this incredible historical artifact and the Ohman Family who first brought it to the attention of the world, especially for young people and children.”
Kensington Rune Stone Park, which encompasses the former Ohman homestead where the Rune Stone was unearthed in 1898, is a Douglas County park. While the visitor’s center exhibit was created in conjunction with the Kensington Rune Stone Park Foundation, it nevertheless carries the implicit endorsement of the county government. While the county says that multiple viewpoints will be represented, does that really help when fantasy and fact are presented as equal alternatives?
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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