TELUS World of Science Edmonton presents The Science of Ripley’s Believe It Or Not!
With health and safety precautions in place, you can now see and learn about everyone's favourite purveyor of the wonderfully weird. We talked with Staff Scientist Marie McConnell about astonishing specimens, wild illusions, and the biggest snake to ever exist!
By Cory Schachtel | July 8, 2020
What changes have you made to allow the exhibit to safely open?
The health and well-being of guests and staff is top of mind, so occupancy will be limited per the Alberta Health Services Guidelines, all guests will have a timed ticket, hours of operation will be reduced and masks will be required for guests ages two and above, as well as all Science Centre staff. The exhibition has also been created as a “hands-free” experience, and to maintain social distancing, the Science Centre will establish specific one-way walking.
What is the “science” part of it? How is it more than a usual Ripley’s exhibit or what you might find in books/online?
Visitors ofThe Science of Ripley’s Believe it or Not!will see an extraordinary collection of astonishing specimens from theRipley’s Believe it or Not! collection. Visitors will come face-to-face with some of the world’s weirdest animals, amazing cultural practices, and unexpected works of art. They’ll be thrilled to see a life-sized model of Titanoboa, the world’s largest prehistoric snake, they’ll examine x-rays of body modifications, learn how a sword can be swallowed without puncturing the heart, and wonder in awe at the process of making intricate micro-sculptures so small they fit in the eye of a needle. Most Ripley’s Believe it or Not! books only briefly describe these incredible artifacts. In contrast, this exhibition goes in depth into the “who, why, and how” of these oddities, anomalies, and fantastic feats.
How big is the exhibit and how long on average does it take to see it all?
The exhibition is approximately 10,000 square feet. Visitors should plan on spending one hour exploring this unbelievable exhibition. Can you explain the different parts of the exhibit?
The exhibition is divided into six extraordinary zones.Extreme Biology will make you feel dwarfed by some of the world’s largest organism, and invaded by some of the smallest, as you discover the science behind our planet’s most extreme biology.
Weird World shows how our amazing planet is full of incredible phenomena, which may appear unbelievable at first glance. From geologic formations such as gigantic crystals, to exploding killer lakes, there is a scientific explanation behind every wonder of the natural world.
The Wonderful World of Ripley lets you hear from the adventurer himself about what drove his curiosity into the unknown, and see some of the actual objects that he collected.
Cultural Practices investigates extraordinary body modification techniques practiced by cultures around the world and how these aesthetic changes affect the functioning of the human body.
Gallery of the Unexpected explores objects that represent Mr. Ripley’s legacy of inspiring people to create unique art and collect unusual things.
And Perceptions and Illusions show how illusions exploit the way our brains process sensory information to turn it into an image or sound we can comprehend. These amazing illusions will keep you fooled even after you learn how they work!
What are some of the interactive experiences people can have?
You can see a life-sized model of the Titanoboa, the largest snake to ever live, pose for a photo with a life-sized animatronic of the world’s tallest man, Robert Wadlow, who grew to be 2.7m (8 feet 11 inches) tall, see the sword swallowing challenge and create unique “paintings” by moving your body to explore the concepts of time and movement in a custom immersive digital art installation.
What kind of illusions will be on display for people to learn about?
Many of your favourite illusions, as well as some new ones, will be on display. Visitors can touch theFloating Gemstone, or decide whether the spinning object is a vase or talking face.
What will people learn about Mr. Ripley in “The Wonderful World of Ripley” section?
You’ll hear from Mr. Ripley about what drove his curiosity into the unknown, and see some of the actual objects that he collected as he travelled the world. You’ll also browse through decades of Ripley’s Believe it or Not!cartoons and letters written to Mr. Ripley himself.
Do you have a personal favourite part of the exhibit? Are you excited to share Ripley’s with a new generation that may not have heard of it before?
The largest snake to ever live was Titanoboa. It’s easy to say that it was HUGE but it’s an entirely new experience to see its mouth and into its digestive tract. And I can’t wait for guests of all ages to discover just how weird some creatures are!
Have you gotten feedback from parents, specifically those who read the books when they were kids? Are they just as excited as their kids, who may be discovering Ripley’s for the first time?
The great thing about The Science of Ripley’s Believe It or Not! is that it spans generations. Parents who grew up watching the TV Show or reading theRipley’s Believe it or Not!books are excited to see some of the things they learned about in person. Truth be told, who isn’t fascinated by all things weird and strange? There really is something for all ages to enjoy.