When walking around in the armpit of San Francisco’s touristy sweat-pit, it’s hard not to get drawn in to the many museums that abound in that area. Right in the heart of it all on Jefferson Street just up from Fisherman’s Wharf is the Ripley’s Museum, which I found to be more appealing and as curiously interesting as any of them… Believe it… or not?
The curb appeal of the Ripley’s museum is as great as any and far better than most. There’s a suspended fountain that pours water without cause all day, a rubber convict climbing a rope and any of a number of courteous and cordial desk-folk to great you. They even step it up a tad with blaring tape loops that give you no more than a glimpse of what’s inside… “fair enough,” said I, I was ready to bite; however the parents weren’t convinced.
From the curb you’d never imagine how much space they have inside. It’s a believe-it-or-not-able optical illusion. They only have a store or two’s width on the curb, but they’ve got a monster of an upstairs… I’ll spare you from the slogan again and just tell you that you ican believe it.
We paid our due, went inside and were immediately baffled by the most outlandish collection of exhibits we’d ever imagined. Perhaps you wouldn’t believe that a Chinese emperor had double-pupiledy irised eyes or that a man could stand at a foot and some change. For me it was ho-hum and whatever, I was more interested by the crazy sculptures and smaller goofball stuff.
What was weirder than all of it was that our online guide said you could scream through the place in twenty minutes, but I don’t believe that. We spent almost two hours in there. I mean, I’m not the most savvy of consumer, I guess, but to get through the place in under an hour would require that you just not pay any attention.
Above – I know it’s not the most interesting thing in the place, but we were all pretty curious about the bottomless pit in the floor, especially since it didn’t also appear in the ceiling below… how do they do that?
But there’s better stuff than unbelievable and scant-believable exhibits of what the genetic code has doled out over time. The best part to me was all the simple tricks I’d never seen before. I don’t want to ruin it, but at every turn (and there’s probably a hundred turns in this crazy place) is something that begs you to open it, peek inside, grab it, squeeze it, walk through it despite your best senses telling you not to, and watch other people try to do the same thing themselves.
I won’t ruin it for you, but there’s fully a dozen things that will make you scratch your head, laugh at yourselves as much as others, and remind you how funny human nature really is.
The Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum is located at 175 Jefferson Street in San Francisco, and is open seven days a week starting at 10:00 a.m., but check their website for seasonal adjustments and rates, as well as other locations that may be closer to you.
To conclude, let me tell you that only one in five people can roll their tongue and one in a thousand can curl it. They provide videos for you to model yourself at and mirrors for you to try it. Don’t feel inhibited, everybody there is a tourist and you’ll never see the people behind you again, besides, nobody is really looking. You owe it to yourself to discover how truly unique you are. I tried like crazy but I just ain’t cut out for it. Nope, I mostly just slapped the mirror and laughed at my reflection.
Believe it… or not?