Finding our humanity — and some humor — in the ‘Book of Beasts: The Bestiary in the Medieval World’ exhibit now at the Getty Museum.
In an ambitious undertaking, the Getty Museum has brought together a collection of medieval art and bestiary manuscripts for the single-venue exhibition “Book of Beasts: The Bestiary in the Medieval World.”
The exhibit — which runs through August 18 — brings us an understanding of the popularity these images had in the medieval world. At first glance, the manuscript seems like an encyclopedia of animals, a record of their stories, anatomies and environments. Speaking with exhibit curator Elizabeth Morrison helped us understand their true purpose. She says the art was meant as an opportunity to reflect on our own stories, a lens through which humans could view their world.
For example, the symbolism of the unicorn, a dominant image in the collection, is a representation of the story of Christ; the animal stands for purity but is often portrayed impaled. The whale, believed to lay so still in the ocean it could be mistaken for an island, is often depicted alongside drowning sailors, and is meant to serve as a lesson to build your foundation on solid ground. With so much depth, the Book of Beasts evokes a feeling of timelessness.
“This is one of the most popular types of books in the medieval ages, and if people come [to the exhibit] they will find a modern connection with it,” Morrison says.
We’ve gotten a bit of a head start!
When you find your old diary and don’t want to burn it, but also don’t want to remember.