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MIAD River Rat recognized on World Rat Day

The Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD) celebrates its iconic River Rat mascot on World Rat Day, April 4, 2023. Situated along the Milwaukee River, the institution proudly spotlights its favorite scrappy and resourceful rodent.

Although no live rats can be found in the building, students and visitors might catch a glimpse of the mascot at many college-wide events. During the recent MIAD Defines: Play activities, the River Rat spent most of the day riding the freight elevator and chatting with students. A golden rat was also awarded to the winner of the MIAD Defines scavenger hunt.

Despite its admittedly unsettling appearance, the mascot is beloved by most students. “He’s absolutely original. I love it … it’s horrifying and yet it has personality,” said one student. “The rat really truly does look like a river rat. It’s gangly and bedraggled,” said another. “I like the mascot, it’s a cute mascot. It’s different, it’s not like an eagle or something. It’s kind of funky.”

One of many ways students engage with the River Rat is through an annual T-shirt design contest. The 2022 winner, Mikayla Kaufman ’23 (Illustration), created a graphic that encapsulates the essence of the River Rat. Selected through a campus-wide vote, the winning design is printed on limited edition T-shirts and sold through MIAD’s store, along with other River Rat merch.

While it may be an unconventional choice for an often-reviled rodent to serve as a college mascot, rats embody many characteristics celebrated at MIAD. Rats are curious, intelligent, empathetic, resilient and social creatures. These characteristics align surprisingly well with MIAD’s own values of courage, integrity, kindness, community, innovation and inclusion and make the River Rat a stellar choice for MIAD’s mascot.

Learn more about MIAD or request information!

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