A walk through “Encounters: UFO Experience” will take visitors into another galaxy, let alone another world.
The opening of the new museum, on the northeast corner of Broadway at the Beach in Myrtle Beach, was delayed Thursday until at least, Saturday, after delivery of more artifacts for set-up in the museum’s seven galleries, said Brian Bouquet, president and chief executive of The Event Agency in Los Angeles, which handled the site’s primary development and design.
The “Encounters” extravaganza – in place through Sept. 2, before a planned world tour – still got under way Thursday, though, with special guest Stanton Friedman. The nuclear physicist and “UFOlogist” who worked on propulsion systems in the 1960s and whose employment has spanned such companies as General Electric, General Motors and the former TRW and McDonnell Douglas, spoke in the morning as part of a preview tour of “Encounters” and at a public lecture midafternoon nearby at Legends in Concert.
Friedman, from Fredericton, New Brunswick, said he foresees “Encounters” as a “magnet for people who have seen things” in the skies, drawing audiences from around the world, to inspire more people with an interactive resource in countering myths with “factual information” about flying saucers. He said few courses exist about unidentified flying objects, and that only 12 doctoral theses have been completed.
Viewing this museum as a comprehensive view on the subject matter, Friedman said, “Absence of evidence is not evidence for absence,” to which to discount it so casually means, “You’re not looking hard enough” for material.
Thanks to modernized technologies, planets have been detected by the light they block in front of stars, he said.
Leading the tour through “Encounters,” Bouquet started in the Ancient Encounters gallery, which he said, notes earlier peoples’ drawings of their concept of UFOs. An encased model of an “alien skull” found in Mexico shows its oblong shape and detail in front and back.
Quest for documents
The “Military Involvement” section includes an exhibit of some government paperwork on UFOs and alien-related matters. Friedman recounted the longtime and continuing quest to obtain disclosure of more federal agencies’ documents, albeit with many sections “whited out” – not “blacked out” – from declassification.
“The document morass is huge,” Friedman said, also voicing his understanding that some UFO concerns fall under reasons for national security, especially amid Russia and China also not releasing all their information, for example.
Bouquet noted how the phrase, “It must have been a weather balloon,” though, hasn’t been omitted in releases of federal records.
Leading the way into the “Abduction Experience” room, Bouquet said people who have reported such spaceship entry encounters described feelings of “entering a womb,” starting cold and feeling hotter, with smoke rising and bright light. Inside, this gallery surrounds guests with lights and gadgets of a cockpit, complete with replicas of specimens in jars, and connects to a propulsion gallery.
The “Pop Culture” wing shows how aliens and outer space concepts have driven interest in such media and movies and TV shows.
Don’t miss the list of “Celebrity sightings of UFOs,” and such summaries about William Shatner of “Star Trek,” the Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger, former champion boxer Muhammad Ali, former Spice Girl Victoria Beckham, actor Will Smith, the late John Lennon and Jackie Gleason, and the 39th and 40th U.S. presidents, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.
In his opening remarks, Friedman also said how in general, with lectures, he’ll ask for a show of hands from folks to say they’re seen UFOs, but that 90 percent of those respondents have not reported their sightings for the record, each because of a thought that “people would think I’m nuts.”
“Encounters,” housed where the “Bodies Revealed” exhibit bore all the previous two summers, and the feedback it will generate will gives everyone the opportunity to interact, Friedman said, with “a new way to learn more about flying saucers.”
Counting every U.S. state and Canadian province, and 18 other countries, in his speaking engagements through the years, Friedman advised against applying the term science to UFOs. He said he also hopes the public recognizes that “the world has changed.”
“We’re not at the top of the heap,” he said, especially since satellites have allowed humankind to conclude “a good estimate” of 8 billion planets in the Milky Way, among “billions of galaxies.”