For many centuries, humans around the world have brought mythic creatures to life in stories, music, and works of art. Â Today these creatures, which were sometimes inspired by fossils or living animals, continue to delight us. Â The exhibition reveals the relationship between nature and legend throughout history from Pliny the Elder, who, in 77 c.e., asserted that mermaids were “no fabulous tale,” to the current sightings of Scotland’s renowned but unsubstantiated Loch Ness Monster.Exhibition highlights include: Â a 120-foot-long Chinese parade dragon, used in New York City’s Chinatown to perform the traditional dragon dance at the Lunar New Year; a replica “Feejee
Exhibition highlights include: Â a 120-foot-long Chinese parade dragon, used in New York City’s Chinatown to perform the traditional dragon dance at the Lunar New Year; a replica “Feejee Mermaid,” of the type made famous by showman P. T. Barnum, created by sewing the head and torso of a monkey to the tail of a fish; and four tremendous, “life-size” models of mythical creatures: Â a 17-foot-long dragon with a wingspan of over 19 feet; a 10-foot-long unicorn; an 11-foot-long Roc with large, sharp talons swooping above the heads of visitors with a wingspan of nearly 20 feet; a Kraken, whose 12-foot-long tentacles appear to rise out of the floor of the exhibition as if surfacing from the sea; plus two actual life-size models-an over-6-foot-tall, extinct primate called Gigantopithecus; and the largest bird ever to have lived, the over-9-foot-tall, extinct Aepyornis.
Mythic Creatures also offers numerous interactive stations throughout the exhibition, inviting visitors to touch casts of a narwhal tusk, the lower jaw of Gigantopithecus, and a life-size reproduction of the talon of a Haast’s eagle (Harpagornis moorei). Activities include rearranging scale models of mammoth bones to look like a giant human skeleton and Protoceratops bones to look like a griffin skeleton. Visitors can build their own dragon in an engaging touch-screen interactive and watch it come alive before their eyes in a virtual environment. Videos include interviews with experts in various fields discussing the significance of mythical creatures and their possible real-life counterparts. Other interviewees include Christopher Paolini, the young author of the best-selling books Eragon and Eldest; award-winning artist Takeshi Yamada, who creates “mythic creatures” today; and artists from motion-picture visual effects company Industrial Light and Magic (founded by George Lucas) demonstrating the process of creating dragons for popular movies such as Eragon.