Cleveland Museum of Art Exhibit Explores Functions of Medieval Monsters in Art

Sun 7/7-Sun 10/6

A new exhibit at the Cleveland Museum of Art should enthrall both kids and adults, but in different ways. Medieval Monsters: Terrors, Aliens, Wonders, featuring items from the museum’s collection of illuminated manuscripts from the Middle Ages, depicts creatures and situations as scary as anything in a contemporary horror film.

But it also explores WHY these monsters were created and displayed: the functions they performed in the societies of the time, some of which have strikingly modern parallels. On one hand, they were used to suggest the power of the ruling institutions — royalty and the church — through their conquest by saints, kings and knights. On the other, in the words of the museum’s description, “A second section, ‘Aliens,’ demonstrates how marginalized groups in European societies — such as Jews, Muslims, women, the poor, and the disabled — were further alienated by being figured as monstrous.” Hmmmm …. sounds familiar.

The exhibit is free and will be on view through Sun 10/6.


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