User Menu

MFA for Educators

Engage your students with the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, to illustrate themes and concepts in any discipline.

Animals in Art/MFA

This tour will provide a centuries-wide range of examples where animals have been depicted in art. Animals have been shown in many ways through the ages; not only as protectors, companions, helpers and accomplices, but also as aides to hunters and warriors as well as merchants and commoners.

Animals have been shown in a variety of poses and in thousands of different colors, as both the aggressor and the one being persecuted. In this gallery you will find animal images from ancient Greece all the way to contemporary art. These animals are shown in mediums ranging from oil on canvas to wooden furniture to weavings. These slides have ideally been made for use in conjunction with a visit to the Museum to see the collections in person.

The objects in this tour are just a beginning. We encourage you to explore the Museum's online collection through this web resource—or even better, to visit the Museum and walk through the physical galleries—to look for other art objects that will provide further insights into the relationship between words and images within religious and mythical imagery.

Designed for use with elementary students.

Learning Goals: ??Exploring this gallery, you will discover:??

• How animals have been depicted in various kinds of art (sculpture, painting, and ceramics) through history. ?• Ways (poses, situations) in which animals are depicted and why they are depicted in this way ?• How different cultures have taken to representing their animals, and why certain animals are important to those cultures.

Using this Resource: ??

• Social Studies teachers will be interested in the connection between history and art. Animals have had a significant role in art over the ages, and in many societies (namely Asian and Muslim), animals carry great importance. Consider the ways in which different cultures embrace animals, as well as the reasons why certain societies connect with them in these unique ways. ?• Social Studies teachers and students will be interested in what this gallery reveals about the history and culture of the societies that produced these objects that depict animals in this way. • Art teachers and students will be interested in the ways in which animals are rendered, and why this may be so. Examples of media and genres include: landscapes, religious painting, oil painting, furniture, wire sculpture, pottery and sculpture. ? • This tour is meant to engage students and get them to think more broadly about the role that animals have played in history, beyond simply being pets. One goal is to see the connection between what animals are shown and how these animals are depicted in society. • Another objective is to explore the varied roles of different types of animals, and to lead students in comparing them to their roles today. All the slides are connected. As a result, the slides will ask the students to make comparisons from one work to the next.

The objects in this tour are just a beginning. We encourage you to explore the Museum's online collection through this web resource—or even better, to visit the Museum and walk through the physical galleries—to look for other objects that will provide further insights into the relationship between words and images.

*There are also useful slide notes attached to every slide as well as at the end of the tour under the 'related resources' link. The links that have been produced by MFA Staff have been noted as such under the tab. These resources are suggested guides and hints for teaching the material to the targeted audience. These notes and resources contain thinking questions and additional lessons designed to engage and further students knowledge of the art they have seen, as well as connect the art they see to other scholastic endeavors.



Related Resources