The Transparent Dog Talks

Vesta, the transparent dog

Exhibition Card, Cranbrook Institute of Science Records, 1955. Cranbrook Archives.

While preparing for an exhibition, it is inevitable that we stumble upon cool, unusual objects in our collection. I love the discovery of the unique stories associated with them.  This image announces an Institute of Science exhibition that featured Vesta, the talking dog.  Vesta (named after the Roman goddess and guardian of the home) was a transparent plastic model created in 1954 for the Gaines Dog Research Center by the Deutsches Museum in Germany. Vesta was then flown to Cleveland, where a team of experts installed an intricate sound system which enabled her to tell interesting facts about herself as parts of her anatomy lit up.   She was part of an educational and scientific traveling exhibition to help dog owners better understand their pets.

Vesta joined the transparent man (crafted in 1920 and first exhibited in 1933 at the Century of Progress International Exposition in Chicago) and Juno, the transparent woman (1926) as anatomical tools designed to teach museum visitors about the science of the body.  By the way, should you ever visit Cleveland, you can view Juno, who is on permanent display at the Dittrick Museum.

The Archives exhibition, Ephemera: Fragments that Document Cranbrook’s Social Life, opens on April 22nd and runs through September.

Leslie S. Edwards, Head Archivist

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