Museum of Earth History to Open on Grounds of The Great Passion Play

April 28, 2005

Museum of Earth History To Open
On Grounds of The Great Passion Play

By Jill M. Rohrbach, travel writer
Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism

Featuring a collection of dinosaur fossils and focusing on the biblical account of the creation of Earth, the Museum of Earth History will open Friday, April 29 on the grounds of The Great Passion Play in Eureka Springs.

Housed in the Smith Chapel, the new museum relays the biblical story of the earth's beginnings by starting with the creation story in the book of Genesis in the Bible and continuing through the great flood to the tower of Babel to the global ice age.

Each section of the exhibit features dinosaur fossils presented in appropriate settings with original murals. Information boards throughout the museum explain the biblical perspective, along with a guided audio tour via headphones. The museum strives to provide a scientifically-plausible history of the earth in relation to the Bible. The exhibits provide a unique blend of religion, history, and science for viewers.

"This is the first museum of its kind in the U.S. of A.," said Dr. Thomas Sharp, chairman of the Creation Truth Foundation. "There are other museums that tell the biblical story, but nothing of this magnitude." The Creation Truth Foundation, based in Oklahoma, partnered with the Elna M. Smith Foundation, which runs the Passion Play, to offer the new museum.

On exhibit are more than 14 life-sized skeleton skulls and fossil plates. All the skeletons in the museum are research replicas, highly detailed casts of the original fossils. These replicas are the same as those found in all major museums around the world, including the Smithsonian.

Displays in the museum include Tyrannosaurus Rex, Triceratops, and Woolly Mammoth, as well as rarer specimen. A cousin of the T. rex, the Albertosaur is among the rarest of the represented dinosaur fossils. The highly detailed, full-sized adult skeleton is 18- feet long and almost eight-feet tall at the hips. The Ice Age exhibit includes a full-sized specimen of the six-foot-long Dromaeosaur. Hanging from the ceiling of the dome chapel building is the Pteranodon, wielding a 24-foot wingspan. Other full skeletons include a Thescelosaurus and Pachycephalosaurus.

The museum is home to a 5.5-foot-long T. rex skull replica taken from the Stan specimen, the second largest and most complete T. rex fossil set ever found. Other skulls on display are replicas of the Triceratops, Woolly Mammoth and Giant Bison.

For more information about the museum, visit or phone 1-800-882-7529. About 35,000 to 50,000 people are expected to visit the museum this season, according to Sharp.

"Grandparents to grandchildren will love it," explained Marvin Peterson, director The Great Passion Play. "It's another avenue of expanding the ministry of the Passion Play along with the Bible Museum and art exhibits."

The opening of the museum coincides with the opening of The Great Passion Play season. The museum is the latest addition to The Great Passion Play's complex of biblically-based attractions. It is one of three museums on the grounds, and provides another dimension to the Passion Play experience.

"It's a tremendous campus," Peterson added. "It's more than the Passion Play. It's more than the Christ of the Ozarks monument. We have an outstanding Bible collection and critically-acclaimed art."

The Bible Museum consists of more than 10,000 Bibles in 625 languages and dialects, along with a large collection of parchments and artifacts. The Sacred Arts Center is home to thousands of works of art in diverse mediums and from time periods as early as the ninth century. The center includes several historical collections as well as important masterpieces.

The Great Passion Play grounds are well known for containing the Christ of the Ozarks statue, the largest Christ memorial statue in the U.S. Over 67 feet tall, the statue is a ubiquitous presence overlooking the Ozark Mountains and Eureka Springs.

In recent years, The Great Passion Play began offering a New Holy Land Tour. During this two-hour interactive tour, visitors see Moses' Tabernacle, walk with Simon Peter, talk with the innkeeper in Bethlehem and more as storytellers recreate biblical stories and personalities to help people experience the history and culture of the ancient Middle East. Trams take visitors to each of the 35 exhibits spread throughout the wooded hillsides of the Passion Play grounds.

Additionally, the grounds contain the Church in the Grove, a section of the Berlin Wall, the Smith Memorial Chapel, a playground and picnic area, restaurant, gift shops and a concession stand. Free before each Passion Play performance is Parables of the Potter presentations. Here a potter shares how God shapes all things as he creates a piece of art.

The two-hour Great Passion Play performance is, of course, one of the main attractions. Watching this outdoor drama is, in a sense, like viewing a film on the huge screen of an IMAX theatre. So much takes place throughout the permanent set that audience members must turn their heads, not just move their eyes, to view it all. The recreated Jerusalem representing two thousand years ago is set against an Ozark hillside and is about the size of two football fields. With an impressive 4,100-seat outdoor amphitheater, the current production comprises a cast in authentic attire, and features original music composed by Phil Perkins and performed by the National Philharmonic Orchestra of London. About 250 actors make up the cast with 150 of them on stage during some scenes. Camels, donkeys, horses, pigeons, sheep, and goats are also used to depict the times of Christ. The ending is dramatic with the ascension of Jesus 70 feet into the air.

The Great Passion Play runs evenings from the end of April until the end of October on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Sunday performances are on Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends only. For reservations or information, call 1-800-882-7529 or visit Tour groups are also welcome.

Along with the many offerings of the Passion Play grounds, Eureka Springs has quaint shops, charming Victorian architecture, scenic outdoor opportunities, numerous restaurants and a wide variety of lodging accommodations. Eureka Springs is the only city in the country whose entire downtown area is on the National Register of Historic Places. Call 1-800-6EUREKA or visit for more information.


Submitted by the Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism
One Capitol Mall, Little Rock, AR 72201, (501) 682-7606
E-mail: [email protected]

May be used without permission. Credit line is appreciated:
"Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism"

Submitted by the Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism
One Capitol Mall, Little Rock, AR 72201, 501-682-7606
E-mail: [email protected]

May be used without permission. Credit line is appreciated:
"Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism"