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Age of the Animal
16.02.2007 - 27.05.2007


Ateneum's main exhibition this spring, Age of the Animal presents old and new animal art, showing how artists have dealt with the theme over the centuries. There are more than 350 works from 180 different artists on view. Most of the works are from the collections of the three Finnish National Gallery museums, i.e. Ateneum, Kiasma and the Sinebrychoff Art Museum. Some key works are on loan from other art museums, private collections, or the artists themselves. The exhibition features paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings and photographs, selected works from the 16th century to the present day.

Animals are one of the most recurrent motifs in western art. The various themes in the exhibition illustrate how the roles of animals have changed over the centuries, and provide a background for the present-day equality between man and animal. Because of its thematic organisation, the exhibition also features such examples of the museums' collections that have seldom been seen in public. The exceptional historical perspective of the selected works, from the 16th century up to the present, enables fascinating temporal comparisons - not everything has changed in the course of the years, after all.

Animals are central to numerous myths, beliefs and stories, but they also have been and continue to be a part of our daily lives in many different ways. Animals became our prey and cattle, providing the basis for human survival. Man harnessed horse to toil for him and risk its life taking warriors into battle. Yet that is all in the past now, as horse has become a mount and a runner. Man trained and bred the feral wolf into a dog for protection and company. Even the wild cat chasing rats and mice around the farm has been turned into a purring pet, albeit a very independent one. The roles of animals have evolved over the centuries.

Students from the University of Arts and Design Helsinki, directed by Maria Laukka and Alexander
Reichstein, have created a special display for children, In a Magical Forest, where you can meet wondrous animals and read animal stories.