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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Mythic Creatures at Frazier

Did you know that the Cyclops was really an elephant, or that mermaids were possibly manatees? These and other enlightening theories are part of the temporary Mythic Creatures Exhibit at the Frazier History Museum.

When ancient folks on the island of Sicily found the skulls of elephants, there was a large hole in the middle of the skull - where the trunk would have been attached. However, never having seen an elephant before, the inhabitants assumed the single hole must have been an eye socket.

When I saw the skull on display...
...this explanation made sense to me. Sure enough, there was a big hole right in the center. It was easy to see how the people could’ve leapt to imagining a gigantic one-eyed creature.

By the way, does that mean Homer’s Odysseus really outsmarted an elephant, instead of a Cyclops? I hope not. Elephants have long memories.

Now, mermaid sightings are harder to explain. They were possibly fish or seaweed, or maybe even manatees. At the exhibit, there was an activity that allowed us to peer through a scope at a manatee that was suspended from the ceiling. As we looked through the scope, it overlaid images to show us how the full length of the manatee, with its larger body and smaller "tail," could be viewed as a mermaid. (I’m still not sure how those ugly manatees could be mistaken for a beautiful mermaid, but . . . .)

Within the exhibit, my son, Ethan (age 14), was impressed with the huge and terrifying Roc, which appeared to be flying through the air. He said, “It looks so ‘realistic’ – with the massive wings and lethal talons exactly like descriptions I’ve read.”

What did my daughter, Autumn (age 11), like best? Being a horse fan, she liked the life-size replicas of the unicorn and the Pegasus.

Although Ethan and Autumn have different tastes, they both agreed on their favorite part of the exhibit. It was “A Mythic Adventure!” - a 20-minute live performance. The actors kept us entertained and amused while they included many of the mythic creatures in their act.

For this Mythic Creatures Exhibit, it’s wise to know what to expect … and to share those expectations with your children. This is "The truth behind the legend." So, you won’t see Ariel the Mermaid swimming, or watch Percy Jackson battling a Cyclops, or witness Scooby Doo being chased by Bigfoot. This exhibit focuses on the history of the mythic creatures and offers theories on how the legends began.

Just like the elusive creatures featured in this exhibit, this show doesn’t stay around for long. It's only at the Frazier until September 15. You'd better hurry.

Kelly’s Comments (If you go …)
Frazier History Museum
829 W. Main St. Louisville, KY 40202 502.753.5663 or
Exhibit Tickets: $18.50 for Adult; $14.50 for Students (ages 14-17); $10.00 for Children (ages 5-13)

By Kelly Watkins, Global Thought Leader on Corporate Effectiveness & Communication. Kelly travels the world for business, but writes about her adventures for fun.


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