Ai Weiwei: Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads: Gold at the Vero Beach Museum of Art


The Museum presents Ai WeiWei’s Circle of Animals /Zodiac Heads: Gold (2010) on view in the Stark Rotunda.

The display consists of a dozen gilded bronze sculptures representing the animal symbols of the traditional Chinese zodiac. Ai Weiwei was inspired by twelve zodiac heads originally located at Yuanming Yuan (Old Summer Palace), an imperial retreat of palaces and European-style gardens built in the 18th and 19th centuries outside of Beijing. Designed and engineered by two European Jesuits, Giuseppe Castiglione and Michel Benoit, the heads originally functioned as an ornate fountain clock that would spout water at two-hour intervals for the pleasure of their elite audiences. In 1860, Anglo-French troops looted the original zodiac heads during the Second Opium War. The seven heads known to exist (rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, horse, monkey, and boar) have been returned to China. Ai Weiwei based seven of his sculptures on these originals while the remaining five (dragon, snake, goat, rooster, and dog) are the artist’s reimagining of the missing sculptures.

Ai Weiwei (born 1957, Beijing, China) is a renowned contemporary artist, architectural designer, and social activist who employs a wide range of media.

Circle of Animals/ Zodiac Heads: Gold engages issues of historical heritage and memory, cross-cultural influence, looting, nationalism, and repatriation. The display also addresses the ongoing theme of the “copy” in relation to the original in Ai Weiwei’s work. He states that each piece is “a copy of an original, but not an exact copy – something that has its own sensitive layer of languages, which are different, and that bears the mark of our time.”


Image Credit:

Ai Weiwei at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, UK. September 15, 2015. Credit: Guy Corbishley / Alamy Stock Photo


Museum hours are Tuesday to Sunday, 10 am – 4:30 pm. Note the Galleries are Closed on Mondays during the summer.


For further information call (772) 231-0707 or visit the Museum’s website


The Vero Beach Museum of Art is located at 3001 Riverside Park Drive, Vero Beach, Florida 32963. Directions: From I-95 (Exit 147), from U.S. One, and Indian River Boulevard, take State Road 60 east over the Merrill Barber Bridge to beachside, turn right at first traffic light into Riverside Park.

One comment

  1. This is one of. about 10 exhibits to which I said Wow !
    My only suggestion, and it is extremely personal; would be to bring them closer to the center point and put a swivel chair at that point, so that I could turn slowly and see each up close and together.
    Can’t happen but I dream.

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