Visitors of all ages will be intrigued and enthralled by the new exhibit “Mythic Creatures: Dragons, Unicorns & Mermaids” (Oh, my!) on display at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History from now through July 1.
“Mythic Creatures: Dragons, Unicorns & Mermaids This unique, interactive and educational exhibit explores mythical creatures from Asia, the Americas, Europe and Australia and traces their roots through various cultures via stories and legends, works of art and music.
Featured creatures include dragons, unicorns and mermaids, of course, but also the Chupacabra of Latin America lore (“Goat Sucker” in Spanish”), the griffin, the phoenix, Garuda ( now the national symbol of Thailand and Indonesia) and its enemy, the snake-like Naga, the cyclops, the Greek Sphinx, Pegasus, the Yawkyawk (an Australian water spirit) and the terror of the sea, the kraken (or was it just a giant squid?)
Some of the impressive artifacts showcased at the exhibit include a 120 foot-long Chinese parade dragon used to perform the dragon dance for the Lunar New Year that was made in Hong Kong, an ornate Barong Keti costume from Bali, Indonesia, an intricately carved Pegasus (resembling a carousel horse) and 4 life-size models of mythical creatures ( a kraken with 12 foot high tentacles, a 17 foot -long dragon with a wingspan over 19 feet, a 10 foot-long unicorn and (suspended above the crowd), a 11 foot-long Roc (bird) with large talons).
There are also two life-size models of actual creatures that are now extinct — the Aepyornis (the largest bird to ever exist — over 9 feet tall) and the Gigantopithecus primate.
And be sure not to miss the Feejee Mermaid, the object of a hoax by showman P.T. Barnum. The Feejee Mermaid was actually the head and torso of a monkey sewn to the tail of a fish.
There is also a large collection of items that include dragon images such as jewelry, an opera costume, a shaman’s coat, coins, candlesticks, a platter, a mask, a weather vane, a glass ornament and artwork.
Kids get the chance to “Build a Dragon” on a computer and then watch as it appears on the screen on the wall and frolics with other dragons.
One extremely rare artifact in the exhibit is ceramic bottle with a painting of a mythical whale created by people called the Nasca (who lived in South America in what is now Peru) who vanished from the face of the Earth.
Be sure to check out the Mystic Works artworks depicting mythical creatures by 29 year old autistic artist Seth Chwast in the Museum’s Fawick Gallery before you leave. The collection features 20 paintings, 17 sculptures, 13 works on paper and a 21 foot-long mural depicting a scene of legendary mythical creatures and landscapes. Chwast’s artwork has been shown around the world and he was featured on the “Today” show.
Admission to” Mythic Creatures:Dragons, Unicorns & Mermaids” is included in the price of a general admission ticket to the museum. Cost for adults (19+) is $10 ($6 after 5 p.m. on Wednesdays), $8 for seniors (60+), $8 for youth (ages 7-18) and $7 for children (3-6).
Hours for the Cleveland Museum of Natural History are 10 a.m. – 5 p.m Monday- Saturday and noon – 5 p.m. on Sunday. There are extended hours until 10 p.m. on Wednesday.
For more information about the Museum or the Mythic Creatures exhibit call 216-231-4600 or get online at www.cmnh.org.
The Cleveland Museum of Natural History is located at 1 Wade Oval Drive (at University Circle) in Cleveland, Ohio.