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Show and Tell: 'The Science of Ripley's Believe It or Not' at Pacific Science Center

Published on: October 08, 2014

Einstein in toast, a giant preshistoric snake, the world's tallest man: There’s a weird, wacky world just waiting for families to discover at the Pacific Science Center this fall. The Science of Ripley’s Believe It or Not is the latest traveling exhibit to take up residence at the center, with an interactive experience that’s guaranteed to fascinate visitors of any age.


The Science of Ripley’s Believe It or Not invites you and your kids to explore the wonders of the world together. Presented in a large hall, the exhibit showcases weird and wonderful artifacts, creatures, cultures and optical illusions, as well as extraordinary people of the past and present.

Upon entering the exhibit, visitors are greeted by a whimsical portrait of Albert Einstein created out of 440 pieces of toast. The one-of-a-kind artwork is just one of the pieces in the exhibit that encourages kids and adults alike to think out of the box when it comes to art; others include a colorful camel sculpted entirely out of upcycled toys, a Rolls Royce assembled out of matchsticks and a portrait of Benjamin Franklin expertly put together with hundreds of keyboard keys.

Some of the items belonged to Robert Ripley himself — the cartoonist, entrepreneur and amateur anthropologist who created the Ripley's Believe It or Not! books and shows about odd facts from around the world — and you can also learn more about his life and career.

Even more intriguing than the oddities themselves is the science behind them. The Science of Ripley’s Believe It or Not focuses on the how and why behind the rarities within its halls. Kids can climb through a replica of the giant prehistoric snake Titanoboa; compare their height to the world’s tallest man, Robert Wadlow (8 feet, 11 inches); and get hands-on with microscopes and interactive displays and videos.

Active kids who enjoy exploring with their whole bodies have plenty to do, from jumping around with their shadow projected on a wall, to an illusion ramp and rock-climbing on the second floor of the exhibit. Dinosaur enthusiasts will love the triceratops and tyrannosaurus rex skulls and a megalodon shark jaw on display.

The Science of Ripley’s Believe It or Not also aims to open your family’s eyes to places and cultures they’ve likely never imagined before, such as the long-necked ladies of Myanmar and the mind-boggling Cave of Crystals in Mexico. Pop-culture followers will love taking a selfie with a Justin Bieber portrait crafted out of candy pieces or a statue of Bumblebee from Transformers.

Should I take my kid?

Even though the collection of oddities is intended to amaze visitors, there isn’t an exploitative or sideshow feel to the exhibit. The emphasis on science and exploration makes this a family-friendly display.

That said, some kids might be confused or disturbed by a few items in the exhibit, such as the replica of the two-faced calf and other astonishing animals near the entrance, or by the authentic shrunken heads. The heads, however, are thoughtfully placed so that they’re not in view unless you choose to see them, and the display includes information about the culture that created them for visitors who are curious.

If you go…

When: The exhibit is open now through January 4, 2015 at the Pacific Science Center.

Tickets: Entrance is included with regular admission: $11.50–$19.50. Buy tickets online.

Parking: There is a parking garage at the Science Center, or you can try to find parking on nearby streets.

Ripley's fun outside of the exhibit:  A life-size standee of the world's tallest man, Robert Wadlow (8 feet, 11 inches), will be visiting landmarks in Seattle. PSC says, "If you find him, snap a picture using #WheresWadlow and you could be featured on Pacific Science Center’s social media channels. Stay tuned for clues on his location on our Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram."

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