Kids Have a Magical Time at COSI’s ‘Mythic Creatures’

Kids Have a Magical Time at COSI’s ‘Mythic Creatures’

- in Things to do

My family and I enjoy making day trips to Columbus, which usually include a visit to COSI (Center of Science and Industry). While the science center’s permanent exhibits are more than enough to keep my kids engaged for hours, we also make a point to check out the special exhibitions.

When we visited over winter break and saw signs previewing “Dragons, Unicorns & Mermaids: Mythic Creatures,” which opened February 23, I knew we’d be coming back soon (my oldest son has loved dragons and had a fascination with mermaids for years). So last weekend, we headed down to check it out.

An interactive display that shows what sailors may have witnessed when they reported seeing sea serpents.

You might be thinking, “Why is a science museum hosting an exhibition about creatures that aren’t real?” That’s the intriguing thing about this collaboration between COSI and the American Museum of Natural History in New York City: the exhibition traces the natural and cultural roots of some of the world’s most enduring mythological creatures.

Through imaginative models, paintings, textiles and cultural objects from around the world, visitors can see how it’s possible that these myths came to be — and what scientific explanations there are for their existence. The displays investigate how people could have, through misidentification, speculation, fear or imagination, inspired the development of some legendary creatures.

Giant squid tentacle

After being welcomed by a 17-foot-long dragon (to their utmost delight), my boys loved exploring the “Creatures of Water” area, which examines the kraken, sea monsters, mermaids, and more. The head and tentacles of a huge, mysterious kraken — or is it, in reality, a giant squid? — emerge from the floor, beckoning visitors to learn more. Also in this area, my 5-year-old was enthralled with a replica “Feejee mermaid,” of the type made famous by showman P. T. Barnum, created by sewing the head and torso of a monkey to the tail of a fish. It truly is a creepy object — one that we had to return to three times so my son could get yet another up-close look.

Other exhibition highlights include a 120-foot-long Chinese parade dragon, used in New York City’s Chinatown to perform the traditional dragon dance at the Lunar New Year; a 10-foot-long unicorn; an 11-foot-long Roc with large, sharp talons swooping above the heads of visitors with a wingspan of nearly 20 feet; plus two actual life-size models — an over-6-foot-tall, extinct primate called Gigantopithecus; and the largest bird ever to have lived, the over-9-foot tall, extinct Aepyornis.

What will your child’s dragon creation look like?

In true COSI fashion, the Mythic Creatures exhibition offers many interactive stations, inviting visitors to touch casts of a narwhal tusk, the lower jaw of Gigantopithecus, and a life-size reproduction of the talon of a Haast’s eagle. Activities include rearranging scale models of mammoth bones to look like a giant human skeleton and Protoceratops bones to look like a griffin skeleton. Visitors can build their own dragon in a touch-screen interactive and watch it come alive before their eyes in a virtual environment — my kids both LOVED this activity.

Mythic Creatures, which will be open through September 2, 2019, is a $5 add-on with COSI general admission ($4 with COSI membership). For more information or to purchase tickets, visit

About the author

Denise Koeth is Digital Content Manager for Northeast Ohio Parent. She oversees content on the website and manages the brand’s social media activity. Denise grew up in Northeast Ohio and she and her husband are currently raising their two boys here, making it a point to take the boys to area events, attractions and kid-friendly destinations.

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