The Animal Kingdom

August 24, 2010– May 2011 —

Deep in the heart of the Museum of Nebraska Art there lurks ferocious predators, cuddly puppies, large flocks of flying birds, and scurrying beetles, spiders, and flies – truly a wild variety of animals. From the wilderness of the Upper Platte River to the farm field down the road, from the exotic creatures at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo to the pet that sleeps at the foot of a bed, Nebraska is blessed with all manner of creatures great and small. On an expedition to the MONA vaults, an impressive collection of animal images has been discovered by such artists as Robert Weaver, John J. Audubon, Grant Reynard, Miles Maryott, and others. The exhibition Animal Kingdom invites visiting, lingering, looking, learning, exploring, writing, creating, but no feeding of the animals!

Among the artworks included in the exhibition are The Spider and The Ant from Bishop Theobaldus’ Bestiary and The Worm from Darwin’s Bestiary, all created by printmaker Rudy Pozzatti. The bestiary,originating in the European Middle Ages, was a collection of stories based on a description of certain qualities of an animal. These stories offered moral and religious instruction and were often illustrated. Today, artists compile their images of animals into a bestiary book usually without an accompanying story.

Just as animals are classified into kingdom, phylum, family, and species, art can also be classified by style, period, and medium. The animals in this Kingdom are grouped according to their family: mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and insects There are also a wide variety of artistic styles and medium that truly makes this show a “feeding frenzy” of creativity for the viewer. With the help of gallery games and activities, visitors are encouraged to take a deeper look at the artwork to discover not only more about the artistic process but also to learn more about animals.

Storyteller and educator, Brian “Fox” Ellis has collaborated with MONA to create lesson plans, gallery activities, and interpretive materials so viewers may gain insight into the animal kingdom. Kearney Public Schools art specialists Maria Beucke, Kara Gehrt, Tim Hansen and Megan Steinike also joined the effort by writing a variety of art lesson plans that can be used by classroom teachers, art teachers, and home school educators.

On view during the 2010-11 academic year, Animal Kingdom invites an entertaining while educational journey to the world of animals.