You’ve got to admire the National Corvette Museum’s attitude in the face of adversity. When a sinkhole 40 feet across and 30 feet deep abruptly opened up inside the museum in February of 2014, swallowing eight cars and causing structural damage to the building, no time was wasted in going into the cavern after the cars. All eight Corvettes were eventually extricated from the mess, and there are plans to repair at least two of them while displaying the ones squashed beyond recognition as new additions to Corvette history.

Now that the damage to the museum’s iconic Skydome has been repaired and the hole filled, the next phase of recovery sees the museum turning the sinkhole itself into a part of the attraction. Come fall 2015, the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, KY, would like to welcome you to "Thunderdome."

That’s the name that museum representatives have coined for the interactive exhibit that will simulate the sinkhole collapse. Up to 15 visitors at a time can enter a Universal Studios-style simulator in the museum’s basement that replicates the experience of being in a cave beneath the museum’s floor as the earth falls in. The rumbling, noisy display will explain the anatomy of the museum cave-in, as well as offering some geologic lessons about the caves and sinkholes dotting the southwestern Kentucky landscape.

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Why it matters

It’s a clever way to capitalize on the disaster’s notoriety. Perhaps not surprisingly, 2014 ended up the museum’s best year. Attendance soared as the curious flocked to see the sinkhole. There were talks of keeping part of the sinkhole open as an exhibit, but this was a cost- and safety-prohibitive approach. The "Thunderdome" display offers a way to keep this curious turn of history a part of the National Corvette Museum’s landscape. Some critics have slammed the museum for taking advantage of "disaster porn," but I think a little showmanship goes a long way in the face of rotten luck.

First "Sinkhole" Corvette Restored in Time for SEMA
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Source: GM Authority

Emmy Jackson
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