South Australian Museum – Curious Beasts

In an Australian first, the South Australian Museum is the only venue in the Southern Hemisphere to showcase an extraordinary collection on loan from the British Museum titled Curious Beasts: Animal Prints from Dürer to Goya and it is open now!


South Australian Museum Director, Mr Brian Oldman, said that Curious Beasts delves into our enduring curiosity about the animal world through beautiful and unusual imagery found in prints of the 15th to the early 19th centuries in the British Museum’s collection.

“The exhibition features over 80 prints by well-known artists such as Albrecht Dürer, Francisco de Goya, Rembrandt and George Stubbs, as well as many treasures by artists traditionally less well known,” he said.


“Curious Beasts at the South Australian Museum is the last opportunity in a generation to see this extraordinary collection in this part of the world before the prints return back to the British Museum and its Prints and Drawings Study Room,” said Mr Oldman.

Mr Hugo Chapman, Simon Sainsbury Keeper of Prints and Drawings at the British Museum, is keen to experience the Australian facets of the exhibition when he visits for the opening.


“Printmaking emerged as both a major art form and communicative tool in the fifteenth century, long before we could jump on a plane and experience nature first hand”, Mr Chapman explained.

“The Curious Beasts prints are not only artistic expressions, they are also scientific investigations of the world in which artists and naturalists were immersed, and the lands far away that were described to them.


“So, for example, Albrecht Dürer had never seen a rhinoceros in the flesh when he created the famous Rhinocerus woodcut. Rather, it appears he based the image on descriptions and images made available by others.

“Printmakers of the early modern period made a significant and fascinating contribution to our knowledge of animals at that time. This is in part what makes this exhibition truly curious,” he said.

Mr Oldman said he is looking forward to seeing the exhibition transformed for an Australian audience, with rare items from the South Australian Museum’s collection going on display to complement the famous prints on loan from the British Museum.

“The curiosity that fueled the artists of the fifteenth century still burns in the scientists of today,” he said.

“Curious Beasts is truly a fascinating exploration of our relationship with and understanding of the natural world.

“Australian audiences will have to explore the exhibition to see what surprises come out of our glass cases, storage shelves and research laboratories,” said Mr Oldman.

Curious Beasts: Animal Prints from Dürer to Goya is open to the public from 21 October 2016 until 5 February 2017 between 10am and 5pm daily. Further details, including admission prices, are available at

Words and Photos from Sassafras PR


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