DENVER – March 2 – 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’s collection—which happens to be the first one to reach America—is displayed in the exhibition.
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 www.dmns.org/mythiccreatures.
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.
About the Denver Museum of Nature & Science
The Denver Museum of Nature & Science is the Rocky Mountain Region’s leading resource for informal science education. Our mission is to be a catalyst and ignite the community’s passion for nature and science. The Museum envisions an empowered community that loves, understands, and protects our natural world. As such, a variety of engaging exhibits, discussions, and activities help Museum visitors celebrate and understand the wonders of Colorado, Earth, and the universe. The Museum is located at 2001 Colorado Blvd., Denver, CO, 80205. To learn more about the Museum, visit dmns.org, or call 303.370.6000. Many of the Museum’s educational programs and exhibits are made possible in part by the citizens of the seven-county metro area through the Scientific & Cultural Facilities District. Connect with the Museum on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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