I drove through the desert of New Mexico on my way to Roswell to see if they could make a believer out of me. I knew I was getting close when I started seeing aliens plastered on billboards and businesses everywhere I looked. Even McDonald’s was paying tribute to the local legend. I pulled into the parking lot and looked up at the sign- International UFO Museum and Research Center.
Roswell became known world wide when in 1947 something crashed into a field outside of the city. Many people believed that this was a crash landing of aliens. In a press release soon after that, the Roswell Army Air Field commented that they had recovered some kind of flying disc which just cemented the idea of aliens in everyone’s mind. Later they retracted that statement saying it was a kind of weather balloon that they had recovered. But it didn’t matter, the people had heard the original statement and stuck with it. From that point on, Roswell became the epicenter of an entire culture of extraterrestrial ideology. Then in the late 1970s, a retired colonel told a UFO researcher that the weather balloon story had been a cover up of the government. Conspiracy theories abounded after that and the alien culture boomed in popular media.
Walking into the museum, the first section was dedicated to the reports and eye witnesses from that eventful night in 1947. The walls are covered with newspaper articles and pictures of metal parts that were recovered in the same field as the supposed UFO. They have recorded messages of people calling the police and reporting what they saw. Hundreds of accounts cover the walls, all claiming that what they saw in the sky that night did not belong to anything of this world.
Another part of the museum was dedicated to a more anthropological aspect of aliens. They showed artwork and artifacts of ancient cultures and how they were given guidance by some kind of ‘divine beings’ In the pictures it shows these beings coming down and teaching the people ideas and implementing concepts that were very technologically advanced for that time. Included in this is a large carved wood piece that depicts Aztec people receiving this instruction from another being as they create a complicated mechanism for industry.
But this is not only a museum, but also a research center. They have the largest collection of extraterrestrial material in the world that visitors are encouraged to peruse. Any book, any movie, any program that has come out about aliens and UFO’s can be found here. The first movie to ever reference aliens was in 1902 called ‘A Trip to the Moon’. But after the crash in 1947 alien movies and television programs boomed. There are people who work in the research center that are no only believers but also dedicated to sharing that with those who come seeking answers.
The museum is actually very interesting to walk through and see the different ideas and perspectives that exist about these things we can’t understand. To be fair though, there is also a good amount of kitsch and Hollywood about it too. But regardless of where on the spectrum of belief you fall, this museum is a key point of Roswell and spending some time here is an important part of understanding the area. While the museum didn’t convince me, it did at least open my mind a little to possibilities of the unexplained.