Image: Dinosaur exhibit at the Creation Museum
creationmuseum.org
Creation Museum guests observe the life-size, animatronic Utahraptor, a velociraptor-type dinosaur whose remains were discovered in Utah in 1993.
msnbc.com news services
updated 12/1/2010 12:29:42 AM ET 2010-12-01T05:29:42

A huge replica of Noah's Ark and an 800-acre creationist theme park reportedly are coming to Grant County, Ky., according to NBC station WLEX.

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear and Answers in Genesis, builders of the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Ky., are expected to unveil plans Wednesday for the $150 million northern Kentucky attraction, WLEX and other area news outlets reported.

The ark and theme park are expected to attract 1.6 million visitors annually, WLEX said. The operation is expected to create 900 jobs. That doesn't count employment at new restaurants and hotels expected to complement the park.

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The museum and private investors have been looking at several spots around the county, but efforts to place the park in Grant County have been under way at least for 18 months, officials told WLEX.

The Creation Museum, opened in May 2007 about seven miles from the Cincinnati-northern Kentucky airport, was estimated to draw about 250,000 visitors per year but surpassed 1 million visitors in less than three years, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported.

Exhibits represent the views of Apologetics Ministry, including the belief that the Earth is only about 7,000 years old and that dinosaurs were among the creatures on Noah’s ark.

The Creation Museum is directly or indirectly responsible for bringing 2,100 jobs to the area and has an economic impact of $65 million per year, according to a study it commissioned.

Joining Beshear at Wednesday’s announcement in the State Capitol will be Mike Zovath, senior vice president of Answers in Genesis and head of the Creation Museum project, and Grant County Judge/Executive Darrell Link, the Enquirer said.

The project will be a joint development of Answers in Genesis and for-profit partner Ark Encounter LLC of Springfield, Mo., according to the Louisville Courier-Journal.

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The developers are seeking state tax incentives under the Kentucky Tourism Development Act, which allows up to 25 percent of the cost of a project to be recovered, Courier-Journal said.

Atheist groups and church-state separation advocates noted that state involvement in the project may not appear to be right, but it does appear to be legal as state tax breaks are used to support tourism projects.

“It might not be discrimination, but it might not be a good idea,” Edwin Kagin, a Northern Kentucky attorney who is also the national legal director for the group American Atheists, told the Courier-Journal.

The existing 70,000-square-foot Creation Museum "brings the pages of the Bible to life, casting its characters and animals in dynamic form and placing them in familiar settings," says the Creation Museum website. "Adam and Eve live in the Garden of Eden. Children play and dinosaurs roam near Eden’s Rivers. The serpent coils cunningly in the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil."

Among other museum exhibits are a planetarium showing "the amazing 'Created Cosmos,'" four theaters including a special effects auditorium featuring "Men in White," a Dinosaur Den, Noah's Ark construction site, and a cave about "Natural Selection Is Not Evolution."

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