Mythic Creatures: Dragons, Unicorns, and Mermaids

Posted by: Craig Woolheater on March 23rd, 2015

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Mythic Creatures: Dragons, Unicorns, and Mermaids Enchants the Denver Museum of Nature & Science

Captivating and whimsical exhibition examining science and legend opens Friday, March 20 (through September 7)

Dragons, Bigfoot, chupacabras, unicorns, mermaids. These legendary creatures have captured imaginations, inspired art and culture, and spurred wild speculation. In the new exhibition Mythic Creatures: Dragons, Unicorns, and Mermaids, opening at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science on Friday, March 20, the world’s most enduring fantastical beings come to life through dazzling statues and models—such as a unicorn and 17-foot-long dragon—and are examined more critically through real fossils and cultural objects that have created generations of lore.

Throughout history, humans have caught “glimpses” of mythic creatures—sliding beneath the waves, running silently through the trees, and soaring above the clouds. The creatures take shape through human imagination and belief, and many are celebrated symbols of the cultural landscape. From a jade dragon to carvings of Inuit spirits, from voodoo banners to a shaman’s coat and Japanese armor, the exhibition illustrates how humans gravitate toward the mythical for spiritual and creative expression.

The exhibition also reveals how science evolves. There was a time when respected intellectuals pointed to ancient elephant skulls as evidence of Cyclops or to a narwhal tusk from the North Sea to lend credence to the existence of unicorns. Others produced mythical creatures for sensation, such as the “Feejee mermaid,” a monkey’s torso sewn to a fish tail. This hoax was made famous by showman P.T. Barnum.

In addition to the dragon, guests will encounter statues and models of a 10-foot-tall kraken, with its head and tentacles rising from the floor; a unicorn and a griffin; Gigantopithecus, a real, now-extinct ape whose fossils inspired stories of ape-men in Asia; and an 11-foot Roc, the mythic bird large enough to carry an elephant into the sky, which is compared to a model of Aepyornis, an extinct “elephant bird” from Madagascar that laid the largest eggs in the world. A very rare Aepyornis egg from the Museum’

Guests of all ages will also enjoy activities such as drawing your own mythic creatures, storytelling, puppets for little ones, touchable casts of real and unusual animals, a green screen for a fun photo op with a unicorn or dragon, and an exploration of Colorado myths and legends, such as the jackalope, the fur-bearing trout, and the Colorado Howler.

“Human curiosity is insatiable when it comes to the creatures that have captured imaginations for thousands of years, so this is a different type of exhibition,” said George Sparks, President and CEO of the Museum. “We will not only take a fun look at how science and ingenuity have solved many
mysteries surrounding these beings but we will also have guests creating their own mythical animals and sharing personal experiences related to the realms between the real and the imaginary.”

Admission to Mythic Creatures will be free with general admission. For more information, visit.

Mythic Creatures: Dragons, Unicorns, and Mermaids is organized by the American Museum of Natural History, New York (www.amnh.org), in collaboration with The Field Museum, Chicago; Canadian Museum of Civilization, Gatineau-Ottawa; Australian National Maritime Museum, Sydney; and Fernbank Museum of Natural History, Atlanta.

Some photos of the Roc, Kraken and Dragon.

#mythicreatures

About Craig Woolheater
Co-founder of Cryptomundo in 2005. I have appeared in or contributed to the following TV programs, documentaries and films: OLN's Mysterious Encounters: "Caddo Critter", Southern Fried Bigfoot, Travel Channel's Weird Travels: "Bigfoot", History Channel's MonsterQuest: "Swamp Stalker", The Wild Man of the Navidad, Destination America's Monsters and Mysteries in America: Texas Terror - Lake Worth Monster, Animal Planet's Finding Bigfoot: Return to Boggy Creek and Beast of the Bayou.





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