A new exhibit has opened at the American Museum of Natural History in New York which looks at how and why humans have created myths and stories to explain the unexplainable throughout history. The site includes displays such as a huge bird called a roc and the head of the fictional sea creature known as the kraken. The exhibit is formally titled “Mythic Creatures: Dragons, Unicorns, and Mermaids,” and is currently being shown at the science museum.

Several other museums have collaborated on the project including the Field Museum in Chicago, the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Gatineau, the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney, and the Fernbank Museum of Natural History in Atlanta. The exhibit will travel to each of these locations once it closes in New York on January 6.

People questioning the integrity of this project should look more at the cultural rather than the scientific impact that mythology has had in society. Mythological beings have been reported all over the world. Some, like dragons, have different versions of the beast on different continents. They, along with other mythological beings, were conjured up to make sense of irrational phenomenon, such as giant squids being mistaken for kraken monsters or large-boned fossils indicating the existence of giants. People often had evidence like this to support these myths; they just drew the wrong conclusions from their presence, something that happens even in carefully controlled science experiments.

The development of this exhibit is a brilliant idea in this day and age when fantasy tales featuring such mythological creatures like the Harry Potter series and Pirates of the Caribbean films at the height of popularity. It’s a genius tactic to help bring kids especially into museums and get them interested in science and history by first drawing them in with appealing themes. After all, who wants to go to the museum in the first place if you have no interest in what’s being shown there? Now, people might.

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