That's the challenge issued by every square inch of the new Ripley's Believe It or Not Odditorium, a veritable warehouse of the odd, the outlandish and the -- yes -- hard to believe, a place where "astonishing" is always the word of the day. Recently opened on the second floor of Harborplace's Light Street Pavilion, this 32nd Ripley's museum -- anyone who's been to Ocean City's Boardwalk has probably seen the one there, in the building with the shark sticking out of it -- offers wonders enough for even the most world-wary. Even without paying admission, gawkers get to stare at a two-trunked elephant (DNA tests prove it was real, a sign assures the skeptical) and a robotic likeness of Illinois' Robert Wadlow, at 8'11.1" the tallest man who ever lived. Though seated, the robot stands periodically, letting everyone enjoy how jaw-droppingly tall Wadlow was -- for comparison purposes, he was nearly 2 feet taller than Shaquille O'Neal is. Inside, there are shrunken heads and ants painted like basketball players, Egyptian mummies and replicas of England's crown jewels, a Derringer that belonged to John Wilkes Booth, an iron maiden and a wreath made of human hair. Anything that's weird, it's got a home now at Harborplace. "People always want to see something different, take them away from their everyday lives," says Drew Morales, general manager of Ripley's Baltimore. And what qualifies something for inclusion in the Odditorium? Morales can't say exactly, but allows that, "It's definitely got to be pretty odd." The following 12 items on exhibit, listed in the order in which they can be found inside the museum, are worth exploring. Some are man-made, some are freaks of nature, some come from who-knows where. But they all certainly qualify as hard-to-believe. --Chris Kaltenbach Photo: High-wire walker Nik Wallenda crosses the Inner Harbor to help bring attention to Ripley's June 8 opening.
Algerina Perna, The Baltimore Sun
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