A new exhibit at the Grand Rapids Public Museum is full of dragons and other mythical creatures.

Dragons, Unicorns and Mermaids uses fossils, replicas, models and interactive stations to explain how “misidentification, speculation, fear or imagination, inspired the development of some legendary creatures.”

“It is just about the way people interpret the world through myth,” says curator Mark Norell, chairman of paleontology at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. “Before the age of science, the way people interpreted the world was through folklore and through story telling. Things you saw that you couldn’t explain--immediately people made up myths.”

The exhibits in Dragons, Unicorns and Mermaids are divided into four sections: animal, sea, land and myths that still exist today.

“Like in Asian culture people still identify dragons as part of their everyday culture,” explains Norell.

Norell says the exhibits point out the many ways different cultures view the world, and the many similarities.

“It doesn’t matter if you hail from Asia, Africa or South America,” he says. “Every single culture has a mermaid myth. Every culture has a dragon myth. It tells us that while we are different, we are all sort of the same and that is expressed in all the art we see around us as well as our deep seated beliefs.

Dragons, Unicorns and Mermaids will be on display at the Grand Rapids Public Museum from Nov. 11 through May 20, 2018.

“It’s a really fun project to work on,” says Norell. “It has traveled a lot and been well received everywhere it has gone.”

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