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‘Unicorn of the Sea’ Rises from the Deep at Upcountry History Museum

February 27 @ 10:00 am - June 16 @ 5:00 pm

Free – $12

From its depiction in the 1500s as an angry sea monster to its portrayal as a unicorn of the sea and now as an icon of pop culture, the narwhal with its unique spiral tusk has risen from the deep in Narwhal: Revealing an Arctic Legend, a new exhibition at the Upcountry History Museum – Greenville County, a Smithsonian Affiliate.

Though it has inspired art, legend, and cultural practice for centuries, the elusive narwhal is actually a medium-sized whale ranging from 13 to 18 feet long, not including the long tusk seen on most males that averages 6 to 8 feet. Narwhals only live near the Arctic Circle in the icy waters spanning Northern Canada, Greenland and Russia where climate variations and sea ice pose a mounting challenge to their survival.

Narwhal: Revealing an Arctic Legend features a variety of unique displays and hands-on activities inviting visitors to discover the story of the “Unicorn of the Sea” while learning how traditional knowledge and scientific research combine to create greater understanding of these fascinating animals and our changing global climate. Visitor experiences include:

  • Encountering first-hand accounts of indigenous Inuit community members from parts of Alaska, Arctic Canada, and Greenland, and international scientists about the interactions and history with the narwhals.
  • Listening to soundscapes of shifting ice, flowing water, narwhal vocalizations, and Arctic birdcalls.
  • Learning what the narwhal “tooth” (tusk) is for, testing your knowledge, and seeing a fossil whale skull from an extinct narwhal relative.
  • Touching a replica of a narwhal tusk and measuring your height against it.
  • Looking at examples of the many ways that narwhals have inspired pop culture.

Narwhal will be on display through Sunday, June 16, 2024. Organized by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History and its Arctic Studies Center, the exhibition was developed for travel by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES).


February 27 @ 10:00 am
June 16 @ 5:00 pm
Free – $12
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Upcountry History Museum
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Upcountry History Museum
540 Buncombe Street
Greenville, SC 29601 United States
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