USD to Partner with British Museum in Major Exhibition

“Curious Beasts” Coming to the University’s Galleries This Fall

Paul McCartney will not be the only famous Brit touring in San Diego this fall.

In what marks the beginning of a five-year partnership with the revered British Museum, the University of San Diego will present Curious Beasts: Animal Prints from Dürer to Goya. The exhibition runs from Oct. 3 through Dec. 12 and explores humanity’s enduring curiosity about the animal world through the beautiful and bizarre imagery found in prints from the British Museum, which holds one of the most extensive and historic collection of prints and drawings in the world.

Curious Beasts is the first in a planned series of three collaborations that “will result in extraordinary images coming to San Diego, many for the first time,” said Derrick Cartwright, Director of University Galleries and Professor of Practice. “No other San Diego arts institution has ever collaborated with the British Museum at this level.”

The exhibition features 86 rare woodcuts, engravings, etchings, mezzotints and lithographs from the 15th to the early 19th centuries by the best known artists of these eras. Those include singular works such as Albrecht Dürer’s famed Rhinoceros (1515), George Stubbs’ Sleeping Leopard (1791) and Francisco de Goya’s Al toro y al aire darles calle (1816-1824), alongside other less well known and seldom seen treasures.

Because these works were typically small-scale, easily transported and comparatively affordable, the prints were also accessible to many levels of society and comprise a fascinating record of early modern imagination, creativity and a broad spectrum of taste.

“Artists from the Renaissance forward were intrigued by discoveries of new species and participated in efforts to understand all sorts of wondrous creatures in both scientific and creative terms,” Cartwright explained. “The British Museum’s holdings offer an unparalleled opportunity to study these images.”

The exhibition is divided into three sections. The first looks at the symbolic and allegorical roles animals have played through the ages. The second explores how prints were used to understand the natural world and the third shows how prevalent animals were in everyday life during the early modern period.

Alison Wright, curator of the exhibition, said she’s delighted that it’s coming to USD. “The British Museum’s astonishing collection of prints has proved a wonderfully rich resource for exploring the ways in which the natural world has inspired and fascinated artists across the centuries. It’s a privilege now to be able to share the show with an institution with such an outstanding commitment to the study and appreciation of prints.”

The presentation of prints will be augmented by a selection of prints of animal subjects from USD’s growing permanent collection. Due to the generosity of a number of donors, USD’s print collection has more than doubled in size over the past two years to more than 1,000 works. Integrated into Curious Beasts visitors will discover important works by Dürer and Goya as well as some important recent acquisitions to USD’s increasingly distinguished print holdings. Also, the San Diego Natural History Museum in Balboa Park will be contributing a selection of natural science specimens to complement the exhibition.

There will be a number of free programs associated with the exhibition during the fall. For an updated list of events, go to

Curious Beasts: Animal Prints from Dürer to Goya
Public Reception, Oct. 3 at 5:30 p.m.
Exhibition runs Oct. 3 through Dec. 12
Hours are noon to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday and noon to 6 p.m., Thursday
Robert and Karen Hoehn Family Galleries in Founders Hall and the Fine Arts Galleries at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice
5998 Alcala Park
San Diego 92110
(619) 260-7516

About the University of San Diego

The University of San Diego sets the standard for an engaged, contemporary Catholic university where innovative Changemakers confront humanity’s urgent challenges. With more than 8,000 students from 75 countries and 44 states, USD is the youngest independent institution on the U.S. News & World Report list of top 100 universities in the United States. USD’s eight academic divisions include the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Business, the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering, the School of Law, the School of Leadership and Education Sciences, the Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science, the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, and the Division of Professional and Continuing Education. USD recently concluded our successful $317M Leading Change: The Campaign for USD, which represented the most ambitious fundraising effort in the history of the university. In September 2016, USD introduced Envisioning 2024, a strategic plan that capitalizes on the university’s recent progress and aligns new strategic goals with current strengths to help shape a vision for the future as the university looks ahead to its 75th anniversary in the year 2024.