Bad Taste Tour: Precious Moments Museum
When I heard about the Precious Moments Museum, you know what I was expecting? A small room full of dolls. That's it. But this place is vast, 3,000-acres of vast. And everywhere you look there are these droopy-eyed Precious Moments clay figurines, designed, sculpted, and painted by Samuel J. Butcher, who one day had this kind of religious epiphany.
And he began by making greetings cards. Then came the figurines, and, finally, I guess the Lord told him to build this huge, amazing park thing in Missouri for people to tour around.
Thanks, kid. He's right. The church is the first stop. It's filled with murals depicting scenes from the Bible. But hey, there's a twist. All the main characters are played by Precious Moments figurines. It's true. Lynn Onstot, the PR woman, was standing by with a bucket in case I threw up.
Yeah, right. It's not a theme park in the same way that My Fair Lady isn't a musical. The theme is subtle, though. See if you can detect it as we go along.
Back to the tour. As well as the Church, there's an art gallery, plus a bizarre Resurrection scene in which a five-foot tall Precious Moment guards Jesus' tomb. Then you get to wander through a garden filled with singing bushes. It's a little too X-Files somehow, but great. And eventually you come to one of Samuel Butcher's most inspired ideas: an island in a lake that they set aside for weddings. It's where Shelby Bates, my tour guide, was married.
Shelby: "I was. This is the Precious Moments wedding island and it's just beautiful. We're in the chapel right now and it looks as if it's a small church but you can seat 120 people in here. I had 150 in here and they fit just fine."
Shame. That really would have been a precious moment. It's all beautifully done, although the wedding area alone is sweet enough to trigger diabetes, so be careful. But visitors are really impressed.
I don't think he was kidding. Anyway, in the event, Shelby saved the very best thing until last: a spectacular fountain display filled with what looked like children dressed as fairies.
I'm filling up. The dancing fountain lasts about 20 minutes. At the climax, this huge pink peacock tail of water fans out and then, well, then something miraculous, not to say mildly disturbing, happens.
And oh boy, will you be surprised. But I really do have to keep it a secret. I swore I would, sorry. Still, you'll see it when you go. And you must go. It's well worth the eight-dollar admission and the inconvenience of converting to Christianity. In Carthage, Missouri, I'm Cash Peters for The Savvy Traveler.
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