The family-friendly exhibition ArtZoo is on view at the Berkshire Museum this winter from January 23 to May 1, 2016.
Set out on an exciting excursion through ArtZoo and discover a magnificent menagerie of creatures portrayed in photography, painting, sculpture, ceramic, video, and more. This wild kingdom of animals from every corner of the world is grouped by species, as in a real zoo, and displayed with scientific specimens and engaging interactive stations.
Artists have been portraying animals and birds since the days of the cave paintings, and ArtZoo is a panoply of such animals in art, showcasing loaned works of art created by contemporary artists and photographers as well as pieces gathered from the Museum’s permanent collections. A stunning life-like rhinoceros head, cast in bronze by award-winning French artist Quentin Garel, is one of the centerpieces of the African savannah area of the gallery. An expressive turtle and a realistic ostrich, also bronze sculptures by Garel, have their own places in the galleries, both displayed with scientific specimens: a pair of real sea turtles and a life-size ostrich skeleton and enormous 10-inch eggs offer a sense of scale.
Vivid images of gorillas, giraffes, and lions by award-winning wildlife photographers Sally Eagle and Dan Mead offer an exciting glimpse of life in the wild, while a compelling video by Sally Eagle of a jaguar attacking a caiman is an extraordinary real-time look at the raw power of nature. The video, titled Ambush in the Pantanal, was selected as the winning video for the 2014 Windland Smith Rice International Awards by Nature’s Best Photography. It is currently on display at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C.
“We think visitors will be intrigued by the wide variety of ways artists have chosen to portray animals, from magnificent photographs showing wild creatures in their habitats to the whimsical portrayals of frogs and birds in the decorative arts,” says Jason Verchot, Berkshire Museum’s exhibition manager and curator of ArtZoo. “Many of the objects are from the Museum’s permanent collection; ArtZoo is a creative way for us to share some of these rarely seen items with our audience.”
Activities for kids and families visiting ArtZoo include Animal Yoga (imitate poses such as Downward Dog, Butterfly Pose, Cobra Pose and many more), a live monitor lizard, an animal riddle game, and a zoo quest through the galleries. Visitors of all ages will learn amazing new things about the birds and beasts around them. How does the domestic tabby cat qualify as an apex predator? Did the velociraptor evolve into the present-day chicken? Can an eagle’s nest weigh nearly two tons? All these fascinating questions and more will be discovered on your journey through ArtZoo!
Works by some of the other contemporary artists in the exhibition include small woodblock prints by illustrator Barry Moser depicting a cunning alligator and a smiling monkey; the monkey print will be on view alongside a piece titled Three Primates by Turi MacCombie, in the area of ArtZoo dedicated to apes. Exquisite drawings of birds by Jada Fitch are featured in the ArtZoo Aviary, and the bronze sculpture, Walktopus, by Scott Musgrove, delights with its humorous pose in the Aquarium section of ArtZoo. Some of the significant pieces on view from the Museum’s collections include a painting of bighorn sheep in the Rockies by noted wildlife artist Carl Rungius; exquisite ivory miniatures of elephants; Audubon prints, and imaginative depictions of birds and fish on majolica tableware. Life-size specimens of a mountain lion and a black bear and dioramas of a hippopotamus, a tiger, and a moose in their habitats will all be part of the ArtZoo adventure.
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