Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Artful Animals

This summer, my family was lucky enough to visit the Artful Animals exhibit, an accessible and friendly display of animal-themed African art at the National Museum of African Art. The engaging nature of the exhibition made me feel like creating art of my own. (Disclaimer: I actually did sit down with the kids and decorate a woven basket coloring sheet.)

The exhibit has since closed to the public, but you can still visit the animals online. We enjoyed looking for the animals in 125 pieces of art, from pottery and instruments to clothing and furniture. I loved the hands-on nature of the pieces, which included masks like the one Kerm is trying on in the photograph above.

You can listen to podcasts about some of the artwork here. Download the visually stunning Artful Animals Activity Guide (this is a .pdf file), which asks:

"What can we learn about ourselves by looking at our relationship to animals?"

"What is our place in nature and the world?"
and perhaps most importantly,
What animal would you choose to represent you?
The Artful Animals exhibit, a collaborative venture between the National Museum of African Art, the National Postal Museum, the National Zoo, and the Natural Museum of Natural History, has now closed in Washington, D.C. But the exhibit may be coming to a museum near you! Artful Animals is listed on the Smithsonian Institution's Traveling Exhibition Service, and is due to hit the road in 2012. Don't miss it!

Photo credit: Mama Joules

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