Thousands of Christians and more than 150 protesters waited outside of the Ark Encounter during its opening on Thursday.
The exhibit recently opened in Williamstown, Kentucky to major crowds, including 4,000 people present for its official opening. Many believers traveled long distances and from other countries to see the exhibit, including Scotland, Australia, Switzerland and England.
"It's a place you've heard of. You want to go see it. Just like the Great Wall of China," said Faye Toler, who traveled from Pensacola, Florida to see the wooden structure.
The exhibit is a replica of Noah's Ark from the Book of Genesis. It was built as an outreach effort by a nonprofit ministry called Answers in Genesis, a group that interprets the Bible literally. Along with the Ark Encounter, the exhibit includes the Creation Museum in what Answers in Genesis calls a family-oriented experience.
The display is the first phase of the project that cost $100 million to build. It includes a restaurant and petting zoo.
Beside the believers were protesters with signs that disapproved of the structure, mostly for the $18 million of state tourism tax the Ark Encounter is eligible to receive.
Dave Silverman, the president of American Atheists, says that the creators of the exhibit are "using money to push something that is provably wrong onto our children in this country." Silverman and his supporters said that the ark makes Christians look ignorant.