Mythical creatures were a part of my childhood and a part of my kids as well. While we may not term it that, if they watch My Little Pony and The Little Mermaid, or have read the BFG or seen Skunk Ape at Gatorland, then they have been exposed to mythical creatures. But what do we really know about these myths? Where did they come from and how did they develop? A new exhibit just recently opened in Orlando that aims to answer those questions.
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What is the Giants, Dragons, Unicorns: The World of Mythical Creatures exhibit about?
The exhibit, called Giants, Dragons, Unicorns: The World of Mythical Creatures, is being featured at the Orange County Regional History Center. The exhibit was created by the American Museum of Natural History in New York and is now “visiting” other museums around the country.
In the exhibit, kids will learn how people from different parts of the world interpret different mythical creatures. For example, mermaids are different in Africa than in the US or Europe. Dragons are different in Asia than they are in Europe as well. There are differences not just in the myths, but also in the way the mythical creatures appear.
The exhibit also talks about how some of the myths came to be. For example, when people stumbled upon a mammoth bone, but knew nothing of mammoths, they decided that the bone must belong to a giant. When they found a dinosaur skull, knowing nothing of dinosaurs either, they decided it was a griffin.
I also learned that some things that were believed to be myths were actually true. There was indeed a giant squid! Was it the actual kraken? Probably not, but it is cool to think it might have been.
The exhibit has also been given a little local color as well, and includes information on Florida’s most famous cryptid, Skunk Ape and stories about alligators that were highly exaggerated to somewhat mythical proportions. It also includes information on Weeki Wachee and their mermaid attraction and the area’s local mascots and their evolution.
Throughout the exhibit there are fun interactive activities that kids (and parents too) will enjoy. Kids can build a dragon, create their own shadow creature, build a giant and more.
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What else is there to do at Orange County Regional History Museum?
There are 3 floors of exhibits to explore at the Orange County Regional History Museum. The museum shows the history of Orange County, progressing from occupation by the Seminole Indians and Timucuan, to the Crackers and the first European settlers. It shows their way of life, including where they lived, how they lived off the land and what they ate.
The museum also features exhibits on what Orange County looked like before Disney, what the first amusement park in Orlando was, and information on when Disney came to Orlando.
One of the original courtrooms from the Old Orange County Courthouse is also available to see. A fun fact, Ted Bundy was prosecuted at the Old Orange County Courthouse; his name is carved into the desk of this particular courtroom, but he wasn’t tried here.
The exhibit is at the museum until January 23, 2022.
Orange County Regional History Center
65 E Central Blvd, Orlando, FL 32801