The Ark Encounter is a historically themed attraction in Kentucky, USA that features a full-size Noah’s Ark, built according to the dimensions given in the Bible: 510 feet (ca. 155 meters) long, 51 feet (ca. 16 meters) high, and 85 feet (ca. 26 meters) wide. It is the largest timber frame structure in the world.
Visiting the Ark Encounter was on our list of must-see places for the longest time. We didn't do it sooner for different reasons. When the kids were younger, we feared that they will not enjoy the ark so much nor understand what it was all about. Moreover, we were making plans to do the trip to Kentucky with the extended family, which proved to be a tricky business because of difference in priorities and manner of traveling.
Traveling on our own with older kids was a good option for us. The kids were able to read all the exhibits and, generally speaking, had the physical and mental strength to go through most of the information on display for several hours. Furthermore, we could do it in our pace, taking as much time as we wished to see as much as we liked without being worried about other needs than our own, which were pretty ok to cope with.
The (re)construction of the Ark, as we understood, started from this text in the Bible that can be found in Genesis chapter 6.
Now the earth was corrupt in the sight of God, and full of violence […] for all living creatures on the earth had corrupted their ways. Then God said to Noah, “The end of all living creatures has come before Me because through them the earth is full of violence. Now, behold, I will destroy both them and the earth. Make for yourself an ark of gopher wood; make rooms in the ark and coat it with pitch inside and out. And this is how you are to build it: The ark is to be 300 cubits long, 50 cubits wide, and 30 cubits high. You are to make a roof for the ark, finish its walls a cubit from the top, place a door in the side of the ark, and build lower, middle, and upper decks. And behold, I will bring floodwaters upon the earth to destroy every creature under the heavens that has the breath of life. Everything on the earth will perish.”
The story of the Ark speaks of salvation and judgement, in this order, two ever present themes, in the Scriptures. The creation of a beautiful and good yet not fool-proof world soon turned perilous in the hands of human beings. Endowed with free will and the power to choose between good and bad, the people turned out to be rebellious against their Creator and hence let themselves be filled with wickedness. The earth itself, as a consequence, was filled with violence and evil before God poured His judgement. Still in the middle of all the bad, the mad and the ugly, a family of eight trusted in God and did what He told them to do to save themselves and a great number of land animals from the impending doom.
To me, the Ark Encounter was an awe-inspiring experience. It was not just about the greatest wooden structure in the world, but also about a plethora of fossil, cultural and geological evidence of a cataclysmic flood event that took place in our world. It is a work of art, engineering, and science.
It is impossible for me to pour in an article all the thought-provoking stuff I read and saw while walking around this massive boat. You are transported in what the sensory experience might have been like right from the beginning with the thunder and rain clapping and the different animal calls coming from everywhere, the slight vibration of the floors, the dim light. It was a fascinating experience for me, one that I will never forget.
The Ark, as an image of God's provision of Salvation from the darkness that is gathering in our world, will forever be etched in my memory.
The Ark Encounter is a life-size replica of Noah's ark built to the specifications in the Bible. Inside, it has many exhibits showing how the people might have lived, how the animals were kept for 40 days inside, and why Noah's ark was a feasible building project.
In fact, the Bible gives us the specifications of Noah's ark, in Genesis 6:14-15, we have the materials used and the size of the Ark.
14 Make yourself an ark of gopherwood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and outside with pitch. 15 And this is how you shall make it: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, its width fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits.
From these three measurements, we can find the volume of the Ark, which turns out to be 450,000 cubic cubits (?!). However, cubits don't make sense because we don't use them anymore. A cubit was from 17-20 inches, but the Ark was built to the 20-inch cubit, so that means it is around 750,000 cubic feet (21,237.63 cubic meters), storage capacity was about 450 standard semi-trailers. A standard livestock trailer holds about 250 sheep, so the Ark had the capacity to hold at least 120,000 sheep.
The size is impressive enough, but what's inside is even better. The first floor shows what cages for the small animals might have looked like. There was a feeding box on one side and a jar on the other side that might have held water and food for the animals inside.
Other exhibits on the first level of the Ark were cages for larger animals, and cages for amphibians.
On the second floor, we watched a short film in which we saw Noah being interviewed about his ark. Other things on the second floor included a play area for children, and the gigantic door that leads into the Ark. There was also a carpentry room and a blacksmith room, which, I thought, were quite interesting, although blacksmithing might be dangerous on a wooden boat because of the fire. Sawing wood and hammering metal were animatronic people who were supposed to be Noah's sons.
On the third floor were the most fascinating exhibits: possible living quarters for Noah's family, details on how Noah's family might have cleaned the animal refuse on the Ark, a long comic strip on the side of a wall in a different room, and a timeline of the world.
Later, we watched a VR ark animation, which made me want to get a VR headset to play Minecraft, and ate at an all-you-can-eat buffet that served delicious food (try the fish!).
The Ark Encounter is:
The enormous wooden structure looming over me as I stand under it.
The animatronic Noah talking about his wife in one of the exhibits on the second floor.
The delicious cooked pollock from the all-you-can-eat.
The hard wood that the Ark was made of; surprisingly, it was real wood instead of plastic.
The stench of animal refuse from the petting zoo near the ark.
I really liked the Ark encounter and would definitely go again to walk around in the Ark again.
When we arrived at the Ark Encounter, we saw the giant boat looming above anything else in sight. We were taken to the Ark by bus and soon discovered to our delight that we could enter the Ark and that it had three floors, each of them having their exhibits.
On the first floor, we saw a few wooden cages that were inhabited by realistic animal figurines. There was an animal that looked like a shell less turtle, and it kind of creeped me out.
A nice attraction on the second floor was a presentation about how the world before the flood was like. One of the small exhibits looked like a Colosseum, filled with people and an angry Carnotaurus attacking slaves in the arena.
One of my favorite exhibits on the third floor was about many of the flood myths from around the world. On a large screen in this room, there was an animation that explained how seaworthy the most famous Arks were. One of the Arks was the giant cube of Gilgamesh which, in the animation, rolled around in the sea, killing all the animals and people in it. From all the boats, Noah's Ark, as is described in the Bible, is the only seaworthy structure.
After visiting the Ark, we went to see the VR experience which was called Truth Traveler, where we experienced the flood, Noah building the Ark, and the attempt of an ancient dinosaur to bite us. Then we ate at the all you can eat called Emzara's Kitchen.
I would go again to the Ark encounter so that I can ride the Truth Traveler again.
The Ark encounter was for me:
The rough wood that the Ark was made of;
The small figurines frozen in fear in front of the dinasour;
The small timelines and history of the world;
The movie screen in the theater;
The massive gate of the Ark.