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Dead but not forgotten animals disprove evolution with their diversity.
Dead but not forgotten animals disprove evolution with their diversity.

NC Taxidermy Hall of Fame, Creation, Tool Museum

Field review by the editors.

Southern Pines, North Carolina

Dead animals, sharp tools, religious signs, claustrophobic space -- we wouldn't be the first to note the superficial similarities between this North Carolina museum and the bunker of a Hollywood movie maniac.

Caveman? Lou Ferrigno? Some displays are a mystery.
Caveman? Lou Ferrigno? Some displays are a mystery.

Packed solidly into the basement of the Southern Pines Christian Book Store, the North Carolina Taxidermy Hall of Fame Creation Museum and Antique Tool Museum was the vision of local pastor Kent Kelly (1942-2008), who would drive around in his Taurus station wagon, picking up oddities. "He loved to collect just about everything," said Laura Ingram, Kelly's secretary and museum exhibit wrangler. "It grew way larger than any of us ever expected."

Pastor Kelly's original idea was to display his treasures in the book store, but he ran out of room and decided to move everything into the basement and turn it into a museum. Why does it have such a ponderous name? According to Laura, the big Creation Museum in Kentucky gets upset when any other creation museum uses that catchy two-word title -- and doesn't hold back on loudly expressing its displeasure -- so this museum has to keep its identity distinct.

Baby animal exhibit promotes the preciousness of human life.
Baby animal exhibit promotes the preciousness of human life.

Surprise: all rocks are equally old.
Surprise: all rocks are equally old.

Another reason for the name is that there really are a lot of old tools and taxidermy in this creation museum. The animals ("The love of God's creation," said Laura) and the tools ("Jesus was a carpenter") were its focus, but Pastor Kelly didn't limit himself. One of his first finds was a suit of medieval armor, which he tied to the roof of his Taurus, drove to the book store, and then lowered into the museum through a hole cut in the floor.

Most of the exhibits in the museum serve as testaments to Pastor Kelly's Christian beliefs, conveyed through the liberal use of signs written by Pastor Kelly (The knight, for example, instructs entering visitors to "Put on the whole armor of God"). One artifact, the "Oldest Rock on Earth," is just a rock, but a sign states that all rocks are the same age since they were made by God on the same day. A taxidermy squirrel spent its life near the Grand Canyon, which was "created," says a sign, "by the flood in the days of Noah, a fact rejected by those who do not believe the Bible."

20-year-old sign could not foresee the horror of internet influencers.
20-year-old sign could not foresee the horror of internet influencers.

Michael Jordan, Richard Petty, and Jesus.
Michael Jordan, Richard Petty, and Jesus.

A large showcase promising "All The Credible Evidence of Evolution" is empty except for a small figurine of a snake coiled around an apple. A taxidermy jackalope and fur-bearing trout are dismissively rejected: "Like many of the signs in evolution based museums, this is a joke." (The tourism industry in the American West would disagree.)

In addition to the falsity of evolution, a number of Pastor Kelly's signs warn that enjoyable things can become false gods if they're enjoyed too much. Examples include Santa Claus ("Worshiped by many in place of the Christ of Christmas"), television ("One of the devil's favorite tools"), a piece of driftwood ("nature worshipper"), and a Ouija board ("It works only on demon power!"). Tucked into a display of athletic memorabilia is a sign noting that sports fans sometimes have an ungodly devotion to their teams and heroes. Laura agreed. "Instead of going to church on Sunday," she said, "they're at the ball game."

Jackrabbit, cow skulls, and Ronald Reagan.
Jackrabbit, cow skulls, and Ronald Reagan.

Laura said that Pastor Kelly loved animals, so no animals were hunted to become exhibits in his museum. However, populating the exhibits with only preexisting taxidermy -- some of it quite old -- did have drawbacks. "I had that big old buffalo head in my freezer for a couple of months," said Laura. "Bugs laid eggs in it, and the only way to really get rid of them was to freeze them, then dig out the nest."

Pastor Kent Kelly passed away on August 1, 2008, and his museum has remained the same since then, preserved by his faithful parishioners, a time capsule of early 21st century creationist gospel. "We all love it; I don't think any of us really has the heart to change it or add to it," said Laura. "And it's full. There's not a lot of room for anything more."

Also see: Rival World's Oldest Rock

NC Taxidermy Hall of Fame, Creation, Tool Museum

North Carolina Taxidermy Hall of Fame Creation Museum and Antique Tool Museum

Address:
156 NW Broad St., Southern Pines, NC
Directions:
US-1 into town. Take the Pennsylvania Ave. exit. Drive southeast into the business district. Take the fourth left onto Bennett St., then the first right onto New Hampshire Ave., then the first right onto Broad St. The Christian Book Store that houses the museum is on the right; look for the green awning.
Hours:
Tu-Sa 10-4:30 (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
Phone:
910-692-3471
Admission:
Donations welcome.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

Old Carbonton Dam: Center of North CarolinaOld Carbonton Dam: Center of North Carolina, Carbonton, NC - 24 mi.
Barney the BearBarney the Bear, Fort Liberty, NC - 23 mi.
Andre the Giant ExhibitAndre the Giant Exhibit, Ellerbe, NC - 22 mi.
In the region:
Tombstone in the Middle of a Cotton Field, Newton Grove, NC - 56 mi.

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