Mythic Beasts set to invade the Canadian Museum of Civilization
Gatineau, Quebec, February 10, 2009 — Never mind looking for them under the bed. If you want to see scary monsters and other supernatural creatures, you’ll soon find them in a new exhibition at the Canadian Museum of Civilization. Mythic Beasts: Dragons, Unicorns and Mermaids, which opens on May 15, will trace the cultural roots of some of the world’s most enduring mythical icons.
“Humans have long feared and sometimes worshipped magical beasts of the land, sea and air. Whether inspired by fossils, living animals or pure fiction, whether malevolent or beneficial, they have an undeniable hold on our imagination,” explains Victor Rabinovitch, President and CEO of the Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation. “Mythic Beasts is a tremendous exhibition because it brings together history, psychology, religion, natural science and art to delve into an important dimension of human beliefs.”
Mythic Beasts will include artifacts and ethnographic objects, sculptures, paintings, textiles and scientific materials from the American Museum of Natural History, the Museum of Civilization and other international institutions. Together, these objects represent an extraordinary menagerie of fantastic beings from around the world.
Visitors will encounter life-like models of some of the world’s most famous mythical creatures, including a gigantic dragon with its wings spread wide, and the fearsome sea monster, Kraken. They will also discover the legends, beliefs and amazing facts surrounding many improbable beasts like the griffin, unicorn, cyclops and phoenix, as well as Mishepishu — a cat-like water spirit of Ojibwa lore — and the chupacabra, a vicious, dog-sized predator made popular by the Internet.
The exhibition also compares folklore in different parts of the world. For example, dragons are seen as evil, fire-breathing monsters in Europe, while in China they are considered auspicious and powerful creatures. And while many have heard of Bigfoot, or Sasquatch, in North America and the yeti in the Himalayas, ape-men are part of the folklore in countries as dispersed as Kenya, Japan, Brazil and Australia.
Mythic Beasts: Dragons, Unicorns and Mermaids will be presented at the Canadian Museum of Civilization from May 15 to September 20, 2009.
The exhibition is organized by the American Museum of Natural History, New York (www.amnh.org), in collaboration with the Field Museum, Chicago; the Canadian Museum of Civilization, Gatineau; the Australian Maritime Museum, Sydney; and the Fernbank Museum of Natural History, Atlanta,Ga.
The Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation includes the Canadian Museum of Civilization, the Canadian War Museum and the Virtual Museum of New France. As part of their mandate, the Museums function as centres for research and public information on the social, military and human history of Canada. Their principal role is to preserve and promote the heritage of Canada for present and future generations, thereby contributing to the promotion and enhancement of C