Ripley’s Believe it or Not

If you have an interest in the unusual, odd and downright bizarre, then head to Ripley’s Believe It or Not situated in Piccadilly Circus.  Here you will be amazed and astounded by the sheer number of original and authentic and highly unbelievable exhibits like a crystal encrusted mini cooper and an upside down tea party.  Here seeing is definitely believing and you will be forced to question what your eyes are telling your brain more than once.

Photo by Ben Sutherland
Photo by Ben Sutherland

Just Who Was Ripley?

The man who coined the ‘Believe it or not!’ phrase was Robert Leroy Ripley, his truth is stranger than fiction premise became the basis of his whole empire of entertainment businesses, originating in cartoon art and ending up will ‘odditoriums’ all over the world.  His ‘Believe it or not!’ cartoons were first published in 1913 in the Commercial Advertiser and New York Globe and caused an overnight sensation.

A true eccentric, Ripley owned over a hundred cars yet never learned to drive any of them, he was also terrified that if he used the telephone he would be electrocuted and die.  He became obsessed with travel and began searching out weird and wonderful facts and events in many exotic locations that his readership could only dream about.  After the Globe newspaper went out of business in 1923 he was asked to put all of his ‘Believe it or not!’ collections into a book which sold more than 500,000 copies in just over a year, turning him into the first millionaire cartoonist in the world.

The objects he had collected on his travels first went on display to the public at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1933 and drew in almost two million people to the attraction.  During the 30’s and 40’s he ran a series of lectures which proved so popular that he was asked to make one a TV pilot which became one of the first regular television series to be aired every week.  He died just after this success at the age 55 of a sudden heart attack.

A Global Phenomenon

Ripley’s Believe it or Not attractions are found across the globe, each of them housing a different selection of items from Ripley’s original collection as well as more recent additions.  All of the exhibits appeal to our sense of curiosity and need to understand and make sense of things, and yet with so many of the items on display we simply can’t make sense of them at all!

Across the five floors that the exhibits are set over you will be startled, amazed and awestruck by the sheer oddity of some of the items, all are original and authentic and nothing has been purposely manufactured just for display.  The London Odditorium contains many items that are specific to England as well as globally relevant items.  With the collection always being added to if you have an unbelievable artefact, incredible skill or fascinating trait the management are happy to discuss adding it to the collection.

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