Depending on your point of view, the International UFO Museum and Research Center will either seem like a display of only-in-America kitsch or a real opportunity to examine UFO documentation and other phenomena involving extraterrestrials. This homespun nonprofit facility is surprisingly low-tech—some of the displays look like they've seen previous duty on B-movie sets (the museum is, coincidentally, inside an old movie house). The blowups of newspaper stories about
the 1947 Roswell crash, its fallout, and 1950s UFO mania make interesting reading, and you can view the videotaped recollections of residents who say they saw the crash firsthand. The gift shop sells all manner of souvenirs depicting wide-eyed extraterrestrials, along with books and videos. Though some of the exhibits are whimsical, the portion of the museum devoted to research accumulates serious written collections and investigations of reported UFOs.
The museum organizes the UFO Festival (www.roswellufofestival.com) over the first weekend of July each year. Lectures about UFOs and aliens, science fiction writers' workshops, and films are offered, in addition to guest appearances by celebrities—Adrienne Barbeau and Julian Sands were recent luminaries. Vendors and musicians set up in the parking lot, there are parades and costumes galore, and the atmosphere all over Downtown is festive. Five-day passes are $20, otherwise day visits are included with museum entrance.