October 5, 2007—January 6, 2008
Misunderstood, worshiped, and reviled, the snake is one of the world’s most symbolized animals and a central character in cosmology, religion, art and myth. Evolving over millions of years, this remarkable animal evokes extremes of fear and admiration. Ophidiophobia, or fear of snakes is common. No other creature arouses such contradictory emotions—yet most are harmless and beneficial.
From the 17th century, printed images of the natural world expanded knowledge and aided in identification. Rare and exotic specimens brought back to Europe during the colonial expansion were illustrated in books and catalogs published for wealthy patrons and a fledgling zoology community.
With their dazzling geometric patterns and arabesque shapes, some of the most accurate and fascinating illustrations of the period were of snakes. Many of these works have retained their scientific value to herpetologists today.
Join us as we examine the illustrated history of one of the world’s most symbolized animals.