VISA prof to speak at National Museum of Animals & Society

Keri Cronin

Keri Cronin

Keri Cronin, chair of  Visual Arts, will speak to the importance of visual components in animal welfare campaigns in Los Angeles next month.

Cronin will be hosted by the National Museum of Animals & Society, for which she is curator of the museum’s online exhibit “Be Kind: A Visual History of Humane Education, 1880 – 1945.”

She will present her lecture on July 6 at the Velaslavasay Panorama during a pop-up version of the exhibit on site for the day.

“Animal protection was a very visual, performative, and literary movement, relying heavily on art, public displays, music, lantern slides, and illustrated books to convey the message of kindness to animals,” Cronin said.

The need for humane education, in a formal sense, has been echoed in schools, religious institutions and literature since eighteenth-century England.
Philosopher John Locke was one of the first to make the connection between childhood cruelty to animals and its escalation to cruelty to other people in adulthood.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, animal welfare campaigners used the “Be Kind to Animals” message to reach audiences of all ages.

At one point in America’s history, over 70,000 chapters of the Bands of Mercy, a humane youth organization akin to the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts, existed in the country. Even “White Fang” and “Dances with Wolves” author Jack London ran his own youth group, known as the Jack London Club, which addressed animal cruelty.

“Most animal lovers aren’t familiar with the incredible legacy they carry. NMAS is dedicated to preserving and sharing this rich history of the animal protection movement, and it is our hope that the work of these early reformers will capture the imagination of a new generation of advocates,” says Carolyn Merino Mullin, the museum’s founder and executive director.

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