December 03, 2011

WORLD OF THE UNEXPLAINED MUSEUM BROCHURE

Cryptozoologist Robert Robinson shares with us a rare look at a vintage brochure for the "World of the Unexplained" museum formerly located in Gatlinburg Tennessee...



Yes that is a naked woman. To explain the Unexplained, it's a statue based on a witch named Monique Wilson. Thanks to this paragraph, this post will bring a whole new set of Googler's.

The museum was open from 1972 to 1985 and was owned by Ripley's (as in Believe It or Not). It was originally called the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic but the name was changed to give it wider appeal.

Here's a brochure for their San Francisco location that I grabbed from ebay...



Few things embody "creepy" like gritty 1970s unexplained phenomenon documentaries. Imagine the terror of walking into one.

UPDATE: Robert also shares this great postcard from the museum's witchcraft days...

11 comments:

Devlin Thompson said...

I have a small felt pennant for this place under its original name that I acquired on my visit there in either 1972 or '73. It's possible that it's out in the back seat of my truck right now (I was bringing home the bag full of pennants that were in the stairwell and downstairs hallway when you were here). If it's in with this batch, I'll scan it this weekend to add to the discussion.

Dawn said...

I went in this museum in the early 80's with my sister while it was in Gatlinburg. The final scene had so much going on. I remember a big forest scene with a witch's coven, a crashed ufo, aliens and a few corpses. We got too scared to walk by it. We had already been inside for an hour. My dad finally got worried about us and they let him in to look for us. He was so mad to find us maybe 40 feet from the exit door. He wouldn't let us go through the Believe It or Not museum no matter how much we begged. Last time I was in Gatlinburg (2001)the lower level of the museum was a t-shirt store. The stairs to the upper level were still there. The guy running the store said the upper level was used for storage but was mostly empty. The layout for the museum was still there but of course all of the displays were gone. He wouldn't let us upstairs to take a peek.

Kirk D. said...

Devlin- this would be a great place to have a pennant from. I hope you find it.

Dawn- thanks for sharing your awesome account! I'm sure I couldn't have stomached it as a kid either, but now I'd love to witness such an epic scene. I love the thought of this place leading up to such a crazy climax at the very end.

Robert Robinson said...

If anybody has any photos or postcards of the World of the Unexplained, please send them to Kirk so he can share them with everybody.

Rick Starkey said...

Wow, I just ran across this site. I used to work at the World of the Unexplained in Gatlinburg. I was mostly in the magic shop, but worked it all. Even up in the museum.

We now have Make it Magic, a magic shop in the Arts and Crafts community in Gatlinburg.

I miss the museum.

Robert Robinson said...

Rick,
I have collected a brochure, 6 good luck coins, four postcards and a souvenir booklet. I recently obtained a copy of the video Leonard Nimoy did for the museum. Due to legal reasons I cannot show the video on the internet. Was there any other souvenir items the museum offered?

Rick Starkey said...

I don't remember any thing else besides the coins, guidebooks and brochures. Just curious how could someone get a copy of the Nimoy video? I remember having to keep the VCR going out front of him. It was the first VCR I had ever seen. It was amazing.

Cody said...

I would really love to hear more about what was inside of the museum.

This is the ONE museum that I never got a chance to visit in my youth and the missed oppurtunity has haunted me for years, especially in my adult life now that I have a genuine interest in the occult.

I have vowed that if I ever win an obscene powerball jackpot, that I am going to recreate this museum to the last detail...

Please, someone regail me with stories of this elusive place...

Robert Robinson said...

Rick,
I was intrusted with a lazerdisc copy of the Mr. Nimoy's presentation. Mr Nimoy calls it the Unexplained world. It also has a presentatin by Andy Grifith for Ripley's. Rick do you have any pictures of you when you worked there.

Billy said...

Billy - I visited this museum with my brother and I kept the souvenir booklet for many years. I remember walking around a bend and there was a scene of naked witches flying on brooms. It was explained that they rubbed a concoction on their bodies that made them have the sensation of flying. I remember the Iron Maiden and the Crystal Ball with the women and Nimoy's video. There was a rack also and I loved being there. My brother went through in a hurry but I stayed and took in as much as a seventh grader could take in. I wish they would reopen it.

JT said...

I went to this museum as a child. I still have an ashtray with some sort of magickal looking emblem on it. I got it on the way out as a 'surprise box' buy where you pay a certain amount of money but you don't know what's in it. I remember my sister was afraid something would jump out on me. lol Good times!