Mythic, Perhaps, But Epic It Is Not

Mythology is a rich topic and there is much writing on the subject. At the American Museum of Natural History Mythic Creatures exhibit you will see a number of century-old books behind glass as well as a menagerie of quotes and quirky historical facts highlighted on information posts to make the scarcity of everything else less obvious.

But then, what can possibly be presented as proof of creatures classified as mythic? For each of the creatures separated into those of the deep, the earth, the air and power there are figurines and paintings as well as ancient (and no so ancient) texts and a video of available research such as the genetics laboratory where supposed Yeti hair is found, again and again, to just be matted horse hair.

The creatures under discussion are giants, unicorns, mermaids, dragons and the more modern monsters such as the Chupacabra and the aforementioned Yeti. The most magnificent parts of the exhibit are probably the beautifully lit statues of the dragon and the unicorn. The tentacles growing out of the floor and the giant swooping bird hanging from the ceiling are also pretty effective. Terrible photos of these can be seen on the exhibit’s website (click the banner above).

The information provided about each creature was a little narrow in scope, but then so was the selection of myths. However, that part of human nature fascinated by both aberrations and the upheaval of the bizarre by logic is left mostly satisfied. Particularly disturbing was the mummified remains of a “mermaid” compiled from a fish and a monkey and used as a hoax in the past centuries.

The dragon exhibit was the most disappointing as the focus was less on mythology than on how people have been identifying with dragons recently through movies and books like “Eragon” and endless tattoos.

Overall, the exhibition is an interesting excursion from what the museum usually has to offer, and is worth your time if you are able to get in for free, or even half-price, because you know someone who has a membership. Certainly not worth $22.

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