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New Dragons and Dinos exhibit opens at Wilbur D. May Museum



dragonb-208x300-7866183-6337353All it takes is one look at the prehistoric pterodactyl perched inside the entrance to Washoe County’s Wilbur D. May Museum to understand why people believed in dragons. 

This robotic version of the primeval flying reptile is joined by nearly a dozen other animatronic creatures, and a colorful array of knights, ladies, samurais and kings for a fascinating new exhibit called Dragons and Dinos that explores the relationship between dinosaurs and the legendary dragons of the Middle Ages.

Dragons and Dinos is open to the public from February 12 through June 12, 2011 at Washoe County’s Wilbur D. May Museum. Exhibit hours are Wednesdays – Saturday: 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., and Sundays from 12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Admission is $8.00 for adults, $7.00 for children under 18 and seniors 62 and over. Groups of 15 or more are $6.00 per person.

Exhibit highlights include:

  • Over half a dozen animatronic dinosaurs, from Stegosaurus to the mighty T-Rex from Wonderworks, along with an animatronic sea serpent and 35-foot long Chinese Parade Dragon
  • European court with knights and ladies and displays illustrating European dragons along with  European beliefs about dragons 
  • Asian empirical court with samurais and ladies and displays illustrating the Dragons of the Far East along with Asian beliefs about dragons
  • 5 murals of different color dragons along with explanations of the symbolism behind each color
  • An Enchanted Forest where children will be able to dress in medieval costumes, put on puppet shows about knights, dragons and dinosaurs, color dragons and dinosaurs at the coloring table, a peek inside a magicians hut and other activities
  • Parents may photograph children (of all ages) in cut-outs depicting knights and a dragon or a princess and a dragon
  • “Walk through Time” self-guided walk through the Wilbur D. May Arboretum that explores how some flora and fauna from the time of the dinosaurs still survive in the Great Basin
  • Storytelling with Kathleen Durham on selected days during the exhibit (call for details)
  • Party room available for parents interest in having birthday parties for their children at the exhibit, call (775) 823-6501 for details and reservations

Where myth meets reality

“We’ve tried to tie together what is myth, what is fact and why people thought what they did about dragons,” museum curator Kristy Lide said.

To do that, the museum has been turned into a time machine that takes visitors back through the age of the dinosaur and then to the royal courts of medieval Europe and Asia to see different dragon beliefs and culture emerged in different parts of the world. 

In Europe, dragons were hunted and feared. They were also seen as a sign of supreme strength and power, as in the Pendragon family whose lineage included the legendary King Arthur.

Asians had almost the exact opposite attitude. Dragons were seen as symbols of good fortune and a blessing. Dragon bones led to luck in the family.

Dragon Bones

“It appears that in both parts of the world, the belief in dragons was based on discovering, but not understanding dinosaur bones,” Lide said. “Looking at some of the dinosaurs in this exhibit, it’s easy to see how people who didn’t have the scientific support to know better would come up with the idea of dragons to explain the discovered remains of prehistoric creatures.” 

“What we’ve learned from this exhibit supports the old adage that experience becomes memory, memory becomes legend and legend becomes fact,” she said

Dragons and Dinos is supported by a generous grant from the Wilbur May Foundation. Additional sponsorship provided by the Reno News and Review.

What:                   Dragons and Dinos

Where:          Wilbur D. May Museum, Rancho San Rafael Regional Park

1595 N. Sierra Street, Reno

When:                   February 12 through June 12, 2011

Museum hours:   Wednesday – Saturday: 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

                        Sundays: 12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.                       

Cost:           $8.00 adults, $7.00 children under 18 and seniors 62 and over

Groups of 15 or more: $6.00 per person

Contact:                (775) 823-6500; www.washoecountyparks.com

Located within Rancho San Rafael Regional Park, the Wilbur D. May Center consists of the May Museum and May Arboretum and Botanical Garden. The museum is a lasting tribute to the legacy of rancher, adventurer and philanthropist Wilbur D. May. Permanent displays include rare and exotic collections from his many world travels. The May Center is managed by the Washoe County’s Department of Regional Parks and Open Space and continues to receive generous support from the Wilbur May Foundation.

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