For centuries, artists have depicted the diverse and intimate nature of humans’ relationship to animals. Wild and domestic beasts have served as deities and food sources; as objects of ornament or sacrifice; as companion or curiosity.

At a moment when species are dying off at an alarming pace, RAWR! considers how art has helped to create arbitrary distinctions between the human and the animal. Works from WCMA’s encyclopedic collection explore the representation of animals in art and artifacts across time and across the globe.

Artists—both consciously and inadvertently—provide insight into the inner lives of animals, and interrogate our ethical responsibilities to these creatures and to ourselves.