Come for the Exhibits — Stay for the People
As I stood in line waiting to buy my tickets for the International UFO Museum and Research Center (www.roswellufomuseum.com/), I couldn’t help but overhear another patron explain the finer points of alien abduction to her companion. “After they abduct you they put these hashtag markings on your neck, so that fellow abductees can recognize one another,” she emphatically explained. Her companion hung on her every word and dutifully nodded her head in agreement every now and again. At that moment, I knew my visit to this Roswell landmark would be something to write home about. And as it so happens, I wasn’t far from wrong about that.
Located on the main drag in this infamous New Mexico town, this quirky museum offers accessible parking in the adjacent lot with a barrier-free pathway over to the entrance. That said, it pays to arrive early in the day, as it’s a popular stop for buses as well as Scully and Maldur wannabes. There’s plenty of room throughout the galleries for even large wheelchairs and scooters, and there’s also a free loaner wheelchair available at the front desk. Top it off with accessible seating in the theater (where a variety of UFO films are shown) and accessible restrooms in the rear, and it’s a good choice for wheelchair-users and slow walkers.
The exhibits begin with the famous 1947 Roswell Incident (that actually happened in nearby Corona) that farmer Mack Brazel thought was an alien space craft crash, and the government later identified as a downed weather balloon. Witness statements, photographs and even a copy of the telegraph from the FBI to J. Edgar Hoover about the incident line the walls, as patrons push in to photograph ever last artifact. And of course the underlying theme of a government cover-up leads to some interesting comments and theories from visitors.
Other exhibits focus on crop circles, ancient cultures, and of course alien abductions. There’s also an extensive collection of UFO reports, along with rational explanations of the sightings. Round it all out with photographs of the 2002 Roswell archaeological dig, a Bermuda triangle exhibit, and even a model of an alien in an incubator, and you have a pretty diverse — and entertaining — collection.
There are also a number of movie props, including Gort, the robot from The Day The Earth stood Still, and of course the alien autopsy prop from the Showtime movie Roswell. Interestingly enough, as I was looking at a prop of a flying saucer and a group of alien figures, a lady walked over and asked, “Is it real?” As I was at a complete loss for words, I just shook my head back and forth, and quickly departed.
By far my creepiest encounter though was with an elderly man who approached me near the alien autopsy exhibit. He looked me straight in the eye and pointed over at the exhibit and stammered, “I was there,” in what can only be described as a haunting whisper. He repeated himself three times, before he gazed into my eyes one final time, turned, and walked away. Practical joker? Garden variety crazy? A real witness? I have absolutely no idea, but I didn’t stick around to find out.
Is something really out there? Did aliens crash at Roswell or was it a weather balloon? Are we alone in the universe? The International UFO Museum and Research Center certainly won’t answer those questions, but it will most definitely give you some food for thought — as well as some entertaining people watching along the way.