MYRTLE BEACH A walk through “Encounters: UFO Experience” will take visitors into another galaxy, let alone another world.
The new attraction opened April 6 in the northeast corner of Broadway at the Beach, in the area formerly occupied by the “Bodies Revealed” exhibit. The PR push for “Encounters” began a few days before, with an appearance by Stanton Friedman, the nuclear physicist and “UFOlogist” who worked on propulsion systems in the 1960s.
Friedman said he foresees “Encounters” as a “magnet for people who have seen things” in the skies, drawing audiences from around the world, to inspire more people with an interactive resource in countering myths with “factual information” about flying saucers. He said few courses exist about unidentified flying objects, and that only 12 doctoral theses have been completed.
Viewing this museum as a comprehensive view on the subject matter, Friedman said, “Absence of evidence is not evidence for absence.”
Artifacts here are set up in seven galleries.
Touring the galleries
My tour through “Encounters” started in the Ancient Encounters gallery, which according to Brian Bouquet, notes earlier peoples’ drawings of their concept of UFOs. An encased model of an “alien skull” found in Mexico shows its oblong shape and detail in front and back.
Bouquet is the head of the Los Angeles-based Event Agency, which designed and developed the project. “Encounters” will be in operation in Myrtle Beach through Sept. 2, before a planned world tour.
The “Military Involvement” section includes an exhibit of some government paperwork on UFOs and alien-related matters. Friedman, a Canadian, recounted the longtime and continuing quest to obtain disclosure of more federal agencies’ documents, albeit with many sections “whited out” – not “blacked out” – from declassification.
“The document morass is huge,” Friedman said, also voicing his understanding that some UFO concerns fall under reasons for national security, especially amid Russia and China also not releasing all their information, for example.
Bouquet noted how the phrase, “It must have been a weather balloon,” though, hasn’t been omitted in releases of federal records.
Leading the way into the “Abduction Experience” room, Bouquet said people who have reported such spaceship-entry encounters described feelings of “entering a womb,” starting cold and feeling hotter, with smoke rising and bright lights. This gallery surrounds guests with lights and gadgets of a cockpit, complete with replicas of specimens in jars, and connects to a gallery that takes a look at intergalactic travel.
The “Pop Culture” wing shows how aliens and outer space concepts have driven interest in such media and movies and TV shows.
Don’t miss the list of “Celebrity sightings of UFOs,” and purported summaries of close encounters experienced by the Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger, boxer Muhammad Ali, ex-Spice Girl Victoria Beckham, the late John Lennon and Jackie Gleason, and the 39th and 40th U.S. presidents – Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.
And by actors William Shatner (“Star Trek”) and Will Smith (“Men in Black” and “Independence Day”).
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