Welcome to Pavlov and the Kingdom of Dogs, an art installation exploring the extraordinary life and times of Russian scientist Ivan Pavlov (1849–1936).

The exhibition aims to shed new light on Pavlov’s experiments and the central role played by the countless dogs involved. In popular consciousness, the name Ivan Pavlov is often associated with classical conditioning, a concept he pioneered through his famous experiments with dogs. The image that typically comes to mind is that of dogs salivating in response to a bell, showcasing the conditioned response to a previously neutral stimulus. Pavlov’s work has become a symbol of behavioural psychology and is often referenced in discussions about learning, conditioning, and the nature of reflexes. The phrase “Pavlov’s dogs” has even become a metaphor for the way individuals or animals can be conditioned to associate certain stimuli with specific responses. But what do we really know about Pavlov, or for that matter, his dogs? This exhibition explores the lesser-known stories behind Pavlov’s experiments—intriguing, often disturbing tales from the early days of psychology, led by a unique and complex personality. Through a series of scale models and artefacts, the exhibition invites you to observe different elements of Pavlov’s sprawling St Petersburg (later Leningrad) laboratory complex, spanning a fifty-year period in the late 19th and early 20th century, a time of enormous social and political upheaval. Across all of the models, dogs take centre stage.

The exhibition is produced and designed by Matt Adams and Jim Wilson. Both work at the University of Brighton. Matt Adams is a Principal Lecturer in Psychology in the School of Humanities and Social Science. Jim Wilson is a Technical Project Manager for the School of Art and Media. Text: Matt Adams Leaflet Design: Luna Stephens