“Narwhal: Revealing an Arctic Legend" at the Putnam Museum & Science Center -- through April 30.

Through Sunday, April 30

Putnam Museum & Science Center, 1717 West 12th Street, Davenport IA

One of the most fascinating of all oceanic creatures will be given an up-close-and-person look at the Putnam Museum & Science Center through February 4, when the venue displays the Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibit Narwhal: Revealing an Arctic Legend, an examination of the water-based wonders from their depiction in the 1500s as angry sea monsters to their present status as icons of pop culture.

With its unique spiral tusk, the narwhal has inspired legend in Inuit and European society and fascinated people across cultures for centuries. This mysterious animal and its changing ecosystem are highlighted in Narwhals: Revealing an Arctic Legend, developed by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History and its Arctic Studies Center and organized for travel by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service. The exhibition explores interdisciplinary research conducted about the narwhal by Smithsonian scientists, in collaboration with Arctic researchers and members of Inuit communities, about the narwhal in their rapidly changing Arctic environment. Revealing an Arctic Legend also employs firsthand accounts from these scientists and Inuit community members to reveal how traditional knowledge and experience, coupled with scientific research, heighten the understanding of narwhals and the changing global climate.  “We are thrilled to host this exhibition at our museum,” says Chris Chandler, the Putnam's Curator of Natural Science. “Narwhals are fascinating animals in so many ways. This exhibition will definitely serve to enhance the Putnam’s ongoing message of environmental stewardship.”

Featuring an 18-foot, life-size model of a male narwhal, the exhibition examines what has come to be known as “the unicorn of the sea.” Visitors will be invited to learn what the narwhal tusk is for, test their tooth knowledge, examine a cast of a skull from a prehistoric narwhal relative, and compare the different ways that narwhals and their whale relatives have adapted to the Arctic environment. Panoramic images of landscapes and a soundscape of narwhal vocalizations, ice and water flows, and other Arctic wildlife will immerse visitors in the Arctic environment of the narwhal. In addition, Revealing an Arctic Legend highlights how the narwhal and its tusk have inspired medieval European unicorn imagery and legend. Visitors can read the Inuit legend of the narwhal, illustrated by artwork from Inuit community members, and Putnam guests will also learn what the Inuit have learned and how environmental changes are affecting the way of life for both narwhal and Inuit. “The narwhal gives us unique insight into the changing arctic," adds William Fitzhugh, curator of the exhibition and director of the Arctic Studies Center, "and inspires us to preserve and protect its environment, cultures, and creatures."

Narwhal: Revealing an Arctic Legend will be on display at the Putnam Museum & Science Center through April 30, with venue hours Mondays through Saturdays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays noon to 5 p.m. Exhibit entrance is free with regular $8-9 museum admission, and more information and tickets are available by calling (563)324-1933 and visiting Putnam.org.

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