Well what can a girl say about the Exhibition of the Universe, which is to be found just opposite Blackpool's central pier?
There I was minding my own business on a Hen weekend (or should I say minding everyone else's business) when I was momentarily distracted from the kiss me quick hats, candyfloss, knotted hankies and sad looking donkeys on Blackpool beach. It takes a fair bit to turn my head, but I can quite honestly say the Exhibition of the Universe, and its garrulous staff left me speechless - in more ways than one.
Owner David Boyle previously ran the Doctor Who exhibition in the town, and perhaps that leads to an automatic difficulty in separating fact from fiction. Indeed the exhibitions booklet sets things pretty wide:
"The world is abound with conspiracy theories and when you are prepared to investigate them, most have an element of fact". (p.3)
Walking around the exhibition the there are three main points for information. The first, as you would expect from the 'truth' movement, is DVD's - you can select a whole series from 9/11 to alternative health care - to watch. The second are large information boards, where information screams at you, often in block capitals (what is it about people who write in block capitals?) Finally information is presented via a series of bizarre dummy's, some of which are, unintentionally, hilarious. As a kind staff member allowed me to take pictures, I present some examples of these above, marked 'The Exhibition of the Universe'.
I really would recommend any visitor to the exhibition gets themselves a programme (for £1) as it is useful to be reminded that you have actually seen what you think you have seen, or heard what you think you have heard. For example reference to 'past nuclear wars' does not refer to the US attacks on Hiroshima or Nagasaki at all, whilst the section on Mayan calendars begs the question - will the exhibition close voluntarily in 2012, if the world really is scheduled to end in that year? And as for the brilliantly named Sheldan Nidle, you can be my 'first contact' any time!
My conclusions? How can you sum up this centre in one sentence, or even one article. All I can say is that if the Exhibition of the Universe did not exist, someone, somewhere, would have to invent it. Blackpool has clearly not lost its capacity to amaze.