Mythic Creatures

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Exhibition Overview

Presented by Shasta Regional Medical Center & U.S. Bank

 

With Major Support from Dennis & Sherrill Bambauer

Supported by Dr. Pamela Ikuta & Don Burton, Dutch Bros. Coffee - The Resner Family, The Osborne Family, Redding Convention & Visitor's Bureau, and Shasta Pathology Associates - The Blankenberg Family

With Additional Support from Gaynor Telesystems, Inc., Haedrich & Co. Commercial Real Estate, Inc., The Kittrick Family, The Morrison Family: Bob, China, London & Calista, Redding Electric Utility, Shasta Eye Medical Group, and Cathy & Jim Wyatt

Mythic Creatures:  Dragons, Unicorns & Mermaids traces the natural and cultural roots of some of the world’s most enduring mythological creatures from Asia, Europe, the Americas, and beyond.  Opening to the public May 20 through October 1, this amazing exhibition includes imaginative models, paintings, and textiles, along with other cultural objects from around the world ranging from Chinese shadow puppets to Greek coins that bring to light surprising similarities and differences in the ways people around the world have been inspired by nature to envision and depict these strange and wonderful creatures. 

For many centuries, humans around the world have brought mythic creatures to life in stories, music, and works of art.  Today these creatures, which were sometimes inspired by fossils or living animals, continue to delight us.  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. 

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

Exhibition highlights include:  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:  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. 

Click through the gallery below for images from the exhibition! 

This 17-foot-long dragon with a wingspan of over 19 feet guards the entrance to the exhibition. 	© AMNH/D. FinninThis kraken, a mythical sea monster, has 12-foot-long tentacles that appear to rise out of the floor as if surfacing from the sea. 	© AMNH/D. FinninSeven hundred years ago, Arab traders told of a bird so huge it could lift an elephant into the sky.  Sailors said it lived on an island off the southern coast of Africa. Coincidentally, a giant bird called the Aepyornis once lived on the island of MadagaChupacabra means “goat sucker” in Spanish and according to reports, the creature acts much like a vampire, killing animals by sucking their blood.  Though similar stories date back several decades, the first major wave of alleged sightings came from farme
This exhibition section explores winged mythological creatures such as the Garuda—a giant birdlike divinity in Hindu and Buddhist stories that fights its eternal enemies, the snakelike Nagas, and the giant Roc bird. © AMNH/D. FinninThis 17-foot-long dragon with a wingspan of over 19 feet guards the entrance to the exhibition. 	© AMNH/D. FinninThe myth of the Cyclops may have been fueled by fossil discoveries.  Ancient Greeks who uncovered the skulls of dwarf elephants on Mediterranean islands may have mistaken the central nasal cavity—where the trunk was attached—for a single eye socket, that This jar contains a 2-meter (6-foot) replica of a tentacle from a giant squid (Architeuthis kirkii). The original complete specimen was caught by fishermen near New Zealand in 1997 and shipped frozen in ice to the American Museum of Natural History in New
Enormous apes are more than a myth.  This reconstructed massive creature called the Gigantopithecus is an extinct primate—a very distant relative of humans that lived in southeast Asia for almost a million years, until perhaps as recently as 300,000 yearsThis kraken, a mythical sea monster, has 12-foot-long tentacles that appear to rise out of the floor as if surfacing from the sea. 	© AMNH/D. FinninThe mermaid Lasirén is a water spirit popular in the Caribbean Islands and parts of the Americas.  In the Caribbean, especially Haiti—where these two banners are from—Lasirén has become a part of the Vodou tradition.  Followers appeal to her for help in tThe mermaid Lasirén is a water spirit popular in the Caribbean Islands and parts of the Americas.  In the Caribbean, especially Haiti—where these two banners are from—Lasirén has become a part of the Vodou tradition.  Followers appeal to her for help in t
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