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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, and Redding Convention & Visitor's Bureau

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

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! 

The elongated spiral tooth of the narwhal, a small whale that lives in arctic waters, lent credence for a time to Europeans’ belief in the unicorn.  Traded as unicorn horns, these extraordinary tusks were prized for their medicinal powers and commanded vaThis 11-foot-long Roc with large, sharp talons swoops above the heads of visitors with a wingspan of nearly 20 feet. © AMNH/D. FinninThis European sculpture made out of sandstone shows a dragon being crushed by St. George, who wears the cross of a Christian Crusader. According to one account, their battle took place in Libya, North Africa, where the dragon was terrorizing a city with iThis white unicorn bathed in violet light, 10 feet long from tail to tip of horn, is featured in the special exhibition. 	© AMNH/D. Finnin
The skull of a woolly rhinoceros (Coelodonta antiquitatis) was once kept in the town hall of Klagenfurt, Austria.  It was said to be the remains of a dragon slain before the city was founded around AD 1250. 	© AMNH/D. Finnin
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