The world is full of stories about magical and fantastic events and beings. There are centuries- old stories, songs and works of art that have brought mythic creatures to life and have given shape to mankind’s greatest hopes, fears and dreams.  Today these creatures continue to thrill, terrify, entertain and inspire.  Mythic Creatures: Dragons, Unicorns & Mermaids, currently on display at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, traces the natural and cultural roots of some of the world’s most enduring mythological creatures.

This amazing display, organized by the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, reveals the relationship between nature and legend.  Exhibition highlights include “life-size” models of mythical creatures such as a 17-foot-long dragon with a wingspan of over 19 feet; a 9-foot long, 8 ½ -foot-tall armored Pegasus; 10-foot-long unicorn; a 6 ½-foot-tall griffin; an 11-foot-long Roc with large, sharp talons swooping above the heads of visitors with a wingspan of nearly 20 feet; and a kraken, whose 12-foot-high tentacles appear to rise out of the floor of the exhibition as if surfacing from the sea.

Local artisan, Joe Leonard, of Custom Woodcarving in Garrettsville, OH states “it is a huge honor” to have two of his carvings as part of this touring exhibition.  In 2007, representatives of the American Museum of Natural History contacted him after seeing a photo of a griffin he had made for a Californian collector.  Joe suggested that they might also be interested in an armored pegasus he had made for the same collector.  After seeing photos of it on his website, they agreed.

The exhibit ‘wows’ and allows a hands-on approach in intertwining legend and history.  You’ll be able to touch a cast of a narwhal tusk and the lower jaw of Gigantopithecus, rearrange scale models of mammoth bones to look like a giant human skeleton or build your own dragon in an engaging touch-screen interactive and watch it come alive before your eyes in a virtual environment.  Also of interest are videos and interviews with experts in various fields discussing the significance of mythical creatures including artists from motion-picture visual effects company Industrial Light and Magic (founded by George Lucas) demonstrating the process of creating dragons for popular movies such as “Eragon”.

The Mythic Creatures Exhibit began its tour in 2007 in New York City, drawing in over 500,000 visitors.   Since then the exhibit has also been on display in Chicago, Boston, Ottawa, Toronto, Atlanta, and Sydney, Australia.  It is expected to continue touring though 2014.  Its current run in Cleveland has been extended through August 12, 2012.

The Cleveland Museum of Natural History is open seven days a week.  More information on tickets and hours of operation can be found on their website: or call the museum at 216-231-4600.