A Victorian Menagerie

The Victorian era witnessed the rise of animal protection, zoos, pet keeping, natural history, cattle and sheep breeding, vegetarianism, antivivisection, and dog and cat shows.  But it also beheld big game hunting, blood sports, animal abuse, a burgeoning fashion industry that threatened animal populations, and widespread fears of our animal ancestry, sparked by Darwinian evolution. Animal artists drew exotic specimens and animals of all species observed from life and on location. In addition, artists and authors humanized animals or dressed them in Victorian clothes to point out social vices as well as rampant inequalities across the social classes in regard to wealth, education, and quality of life in general. 

This exhibition, based in part on the digitized Norman M. Fox Collection at Skidmore College, illustrates the ways the Victorians treat animals, anthropomorphize animals, put animals on display, and make animals an indelible part of Victorian literature and culture.