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BALTIMORE, MD— Opening May 18, Animal Tales, a new exhibition at the Walters Art Museum, will focus on the vivid and compelling images of animals that appear in the pages of manuscripts in the Walters’ collections. The 12 manuscripts in the exhibition date between the 13th and 17th centuries and reveal how animals were not mere decoration, but represented shared cultural knowledge like morals, stories, and fables. When viewed together, these books reveal ways of communicating through images that, in our modern world of memes and emojis, are still relevant today.

“The goal is to move away from the perception of medieval manuscripts as disconnected from our world. We are really trying to activate the collection and make these books more accessible,” said Nicole Berlin, Zanvyl Kreiger Curatorial Fellow and co-curator of the exhibition along with Lynley Anne Herbert, Robert and Nancy Hall Associate Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts. “To achieve that, we are presenting visitors with images that, hopefully, will entice them to question, ‘What’s happening in these books and what am I looking at?”

Animal Tales will be on view from May 18 through August 11 on the museum’s 4th floor. The exhibition draws upon the Walters’ world-renowned manuscripts collection that spans more than 1000 years and contains over 900 manuscripts, 1300 of the earliest printed books, and 2000 rare later editions from across the globe.

“We hope that visitors explore these books and images and discover the incredible connections between the medieval world and our world today,” said Julia Marciari-Alexander, Andrea B. and John H. Laporte Director. “These fantastic books demonstrated the value of continually trying to see art from new perspectives.”

Animal Tales is generously supported by Walters Art Museum members and contributors to the annual fund.