New Exhibition MYTHIC
CREATURES: DRAGONS, UNICORNS &
Tracks Anthropological Origins of Legendary Creatures at
ATLANTA-DECEMBER 9, 2010-Mythic Creatures:
Dragons, Unicorns & Mermaids, a new exhibition at
Fernbank Museum of Natural History, traces the natural and cultural
roots of some of the world's most enduring mythological creatures
from Asia, Europe, the Americas, and beyond. On view from February
19 through August 14, 2011, this fascinating exhibition includes
eye-popping models, paintings, textiles, and other cultural objects
from around the world to reveal the ways people throughout time
have been inspired by nature to envision and depict these strange
and wonderful creatures. Along the journey, visitors will encounter
life-sized models of some of these creatures, including a mermaid,
a unicorn and a kraken.
For many centuries, humans have brought mythic creatures to life
in stories, music and works of art. Today, these
creatures-which were sometimes inspired by unusual 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.
"Cultures have been inspired to create stories about the natural
world's mysteries for centuries. This exhibition taps into our
curiosity and fascination with mythic creatures by investigating
the origins of some of our most fabled beliefs and examining the
most recent research separating fact from fiction," said Dr. Bobbi
Hohmann, an anthropologist and curator of Fernbank Museum's
McClatchey Collection. "With mermaids, dragons, unicorns,
griffins and more, this exhibition explores a topic that intrigues
visitors of all ages with very enriching content that is both
educational and enjoyable-a cornerstone of all Fernbank's
Mythic Creatures features preserved
specimens and fossils of prehistoric animals to investigate how
they could have-through misidentification, speculation, fear, or
imagination-inspired the development of some legendary creatures.
Visitors will discover how narwhal tusks from the North Sea,
introduced to continental Europe by Scandinavian traders, lent
credence to the centuries-old belief in the unicorn, and how
dinosaur fossils uncovered by Scythian nomads may have been
mistaken for the remains of living, breathing griffins. Persistent
tales of undersea monsters may simply be sightings of real
creatures such as the oarfish and giant squid, which are just as
wondrous as any imaginary denizens of the deep.
Mythic Creatures offers a
variety of 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).
Hands-on 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 also 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,
including Fernbank's Curator of Native American Archaeology, Dennis
Blanton, in various fields discussing the significance of mythical
creatures and their possible real-life counterparts. Other video
highlights 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.
Other highlights include "life-size" models of mythical
creatures, including a 17-foot-long dragon, a 10-foot-long majestic
unicorn, a Roc with a 20-foot wingspan and talons that swoop above
the heads of visitors, a kraken with 12-foot-high tentacles that
appear to be surfacing from the sea; a 6-foot-tall, extinct primate
called Gigantopithecus; and the largest bird ever to have
lived, the 9-foot-tall extinct Aepyornis.
Mythic Creatures: Dragons, Unicorns &
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.
Special programming, a Mythic Creatures Store,
and other unique opportunities will also be featured in conjunction
with the exhibition.
Tickets to Mythic Creatures are
included with Museum admission, which is $15 for adults, $14 for
students and seniors, $13 for children ages 3 to 12, free for
children ages 2 and younger, and free for Museum members. Fernbank
Museum is located at 767 Clifton Road NE in Atlanta. For tickets
and information call 404.929.6300 or visit fernbankmuseum.org.