Johan Huibers, a wealthy businessman, used the ancient measurement of the cubit — the length of a man’s arm from elbow to fingertips — to build the vessel to the dimensions specified in the book of Genesis. The finished craft — which has just been opened to the public on the Merwede River in the Dutch town of Dordrecht — will operate as a “Bible museum,” with life-sized plastic animals and an aviary of live birds to give visitors more to interact with.
The origin of the project stems from a dream Huibers said he had in 1992, in which the low-lying Netherlands was flooded by the North Sea. He resolved to build the ark, to inspire children with the biblical story of how Noah and the inhabitants of his Ark survived the flood that, according to Old Testament, washed the world clean of sin.
Despite his best efforts, it was impossible to adhere entirely to the biblical description of the Ark. Genesis describes Noah’s boat as made of “gopher wood,” but experts disagree over what this is. Instead, Huibers and his team built the boat by welding together the metal hulls of 25 barges into a single frame, which was then covered with Scandinavian pine. Weighing about 3,000 tons, the boat contains sleeping quarters, a theater, restaurant and conference facilities to seat 1,500 people.
Huibers initially wanted to sail his ark to London for the Olympics to share his message with sports fans. But he was forced to abandon his plan to sail across the North Sea after authorities raised safety issues.
What can you say about Johan Huibers’ version of Noah’s ark? Do you think a flood will really hit the Netherlands? Air out your opinions in the comment box below!
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