Ripley's "Believe it or Not!"

Published: June 8th 2015
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Saint Augustine has come a long way since the days of pirates, fortresses, and conflicts among empires: today it has much more to offer than history. A most unusual place that attracts visitors of all ages is the original Ripley’s “Believe it or Not!” Museum. It offers a truly fascinating insight into what Mankind has wrought, for better or for worse.

Champion athlete, graphic artist, cartoonist, world traveler, inveterate collector and amateur archaeologist, Robert Ripley (1890-1949) was quite a man! Initially a traveling showman who went from exhibition to exhibition displaying a collection of unusual people and things, his so-called “Odditorium, he began to draw his informative cartoon series “Believe it or Not!” for newspapers during the Great Depression. He eventually had an estimated 80 million readers around the world, and for 20 years even employed a full-time researcher to make sure all his descriptions were true and accurate. Evolving with new media trends, he later branched out into radio and television. Here is a good biography: http://en/ .

In 1950 a year after his death a Saint Augustine hotel that had seen better times was turned into the first Ripley Museum. Today there are14 more of them in North America, plus 17 abroad, the largest one being in London. The Saint Augustine museum is a mind-boggling collection of both odd and exotic articles … artwork, mockups and mannequins of people, animals and places, plus one-of-a-kind creations, some dating back into the far distant past. All are valuable, some are priceless, and they are displayed in climate-controlled spaces, sometimes within glass cases, along with explanations of their significance and where he acquired them.

This article shows only a tiny fraction of the hundreds of items on display. In my opinion, when you visit St Augustine the “Believe it or Not!” Museum is one place not to miss.

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