When life gets too busy, sometimes you just need to take a break and visit a museum, and that is exactly what I did. A few weeks back, I took a break from the normal, and ventured into the realm of oddities at…
Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Times Square isn’t that big, but you can’t miss it with all the flashing lights around it. Admissions for Ripley’s is around $30, however I got a Groupon for two for $29, so I paid less than $15. (Groupon seems to regularly have discounts for Ripley’s, so make sure to check if you want to save some money.) Since Ripley’s is a touristy place, they charged $2 for the guide map, so my fellow traveler and I explored without one.
After paying for entrance, you go through a little turnstile to get in and then you get ambushed by the staff for a photography session; they take photos for you, which they later sell back as mementos. The first floor entrance area had plenty of plastic replicas of oddities, such as the largest hairball, the tallest man and the albino giraffe. Of all the replicas, I found a small corner dedicated to people with facial oddities, such as a duck-lipped women, a gold nose man, and a candle-headed man, to be the most fascinating. Going up the stairs, and through the second floor balcony hallway filled with of pictures of outlandish folks, we entered Ripley’s study. The study is a small room with only one exit, so for a moment, I thought that was the end of the museum, but don’t be fooled, there’s a secret hidden passage behind the bookcase leading to the rest of the exhibits. (See right photo above; please excuse the blurriness, it’s difficult to take pictures in dim light.)
Going through the secret passage way, we reached a room dedicated to oddities found in nature. There was a replica of a four legged chicken (bred by someone to produce more drumsticks!) and the famous two headed goat. After viewing the oddities that nature offers, we continued on to see some more eccentric hobbies that people have, including building the Spanish Armada from toothpicks and making artwork with insects. Heading for the stairs again, we passed by a small area dedicated to the long-neck women from the Pacific.
Meeting us down the stairs were display cases of human skulls. According to the information cards, many cultures kept human remains of loved ones, and used them as everyday household items. My favorite display area was the “torture room”, where various torture devices or forms of torture used in the past were on display. I learned that in ancient China, liars were punished by being tied to a heated stove pipe. (Hence, liar, liar, pants on fire.)
Ripley’s also had various peculiar collections that don’t take up whole rooms, just a wall; the collections were well organized based on a particular theme. Another full room collection that I think worth mentioning is the one that is devoted to forms of beauty; comparing the obsession with beauty in other cultures to the American culture. I like how this exhibit blends the everyday normal with the outlandish weird. For example, corsets and foot-binding maybe seen as something odd to us in modern society, but they were once normal practices in their respective cultures. Conventional and unconventional is based on perspective; people sometimes do strange things just to fit in with the norm.
Something else not to miss is the black hole tunnel (unless you are prone to motion sickness, then please skip it). Essentially you are walking through a small hallway with lights revolving around you, so you just have to walk straight, but it’s harder than you think. With the end winding closer, we finally saw the gallery on the shrunken heads. If you are a fan, they have a whole room filled with them, and even instructions on how to make your own.
We spent about an hour and a half at Ripley’s, we kinda breezed through some of the smaller cpllections, thus it could’ve taken longer. For the price that I paid, I thought it was worth the price, lots to see for a moderate price. However I don’t think the full admission price would have been worth it, but it is located at 42nd street. One thing that I didn’t particularly like was the plastic replicas of some of the artifacts; it gives room for doubt. Even though I know they are “real”, somewhere in my mind, I wonder if everything is true. Although there were some doubts, Ripley’s was still a fun visit. If you want a break from all the fancy art galleries, and want something different, then definitely head over to Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Times Square (but make sure to check for deals).