June 3 – September 24, 2017

This exhibition of over 50 icons and artifacts from the Museum’s collection spotlights the many types of natural and unnatural creatures in iconography, exploring their origins, symbolism, stories, and myriad representations.

For thousands of years, animals have appeared in art and in literature as symbols to help tell a story or to teach a moral lesson. Lists called bestiaries catalogued animals, along with illustrations and information about their characteristics and their symbolic meaning. Bestiaries were popular from the 1st century through the medieval period. These volumes ensured consistency in the way animals were portrayed in art. Though we now know that some of the animals recorded in bestiaries are imaginary, all of the animals catalogued were believed to be real at the time. In Christian art, many animals had special symbolism related to the Bible. Their depiction was also a way that Christian beliefs could be portrayed secretly during times of persecution. This exhibition features icons from the Museum’s collection that show the various ways animals and other beasts have been used in Russian Orthodox art. They illustrate Biblical stories, represent good and evil, connote particular saints, and even personify hell.


May 18 – August 13, 2017

The lands of Ethiopia have an ancient and storied history that is explored in this pop-up exhibit. It is the fabled Land of Punt–God’s Land, and the kingdom of the legendary Queen of Sheba. Orthodoxy spread to Ethiopia through the Coptic Church of Egypt, and throughout the centuries they developed their own traditions and a unique style of iconography that uses a bright but limited color palette.