Media Release—Menagerie: Exotic Animals in Aotearoa

Author: Courtney Johnston, Director

A family-friendly exhibition for summer at The Dowse.

Reuben Paterson, Estrous

Reuben Paterson, Estrous

Paintings and teapots and jewellery - oh my!

Join us at The Dowse this summer for a celebration of the fascinations of exotic animals. Menagerie: Exotic Animals in Aotearoa is a light-hearted look at exotic animals, usually found in zoos, that have found their way into New Zealand art.

From Reuben Paterson's towering glitter-coated bear to Jane Dodd's dainty wolf head carved from bone, Lisa Walker's squishy necklace amde of stuffed toys to Seraphine Pick's evocative baboon portrait, Menagerie is full of wonders and designed to engage and entertain the whole family.

The labels in the exhibition are written to draw children into the artworks, full of quirky prompts for parents to use with their kids when visiting the show. Is the monkey happy, sad or shy? Does the thief have a message for us? Is this lizard like anyone you know? These are all questions to explore in Menagerie.

The exhibition has a more serious note as well, looking at endangered animals and the efforts to preserve species. As The Dowse's Education Manager Jen Boland writes in the show's introduction:

Wolves and monkeys and camels, oh my!
Are kept today in zoos to try
And save those endangered from extinction
A goal requiring global conviction.


The Dowse will be running a special Summer Safari outing in January to Wellington Zoo for Lower Hutt kids and their families as part of the exhibition's events.

 A sketching competition for kids to depict their favourite animals (real or imagined!) will also have free Wellington Zoo passes as prizes.


The artists in Menagerie are: Bronwynne Cornish, E.J. Detmold, Jane Dodd, Dick Frizell, Janet Green, Chris Heaphy, Gina Matchitt, Reuben Paterson, Seraphine Pick, Diane Quin, Lisa Walker and The Crystal Chain Gang.