Bell Museum: Audubon and the Art of Birds

A friendly caller from Minnesota just alerted me to a new exhibition opening in her area. The Bell Museum (located on the campus of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis) will be hosting a 2-phase exhibition of Audubon’s work showcasing fifty prints from their recently restored Double Elephant Folio (or Havell Edition) of The Birds of America.

The first phase of the exhibition will open Saturday October 5, 2013 and will run until mid-January. In order to minimize light exposure for the prints, the exhibition will then close for two weeks, and the prints will be replaced by a new set of prints for the re-opening on February 1, 2014. Tickets are available for purchase for a preview on the night of Thursday October 3 running 5pm to 9pm and featuring a special program with Curator Don Luce, Audubon biographer William Souder (Under a Wild Sky: John James Audubon and the Making of The Birds of America, 2004), and artist/naturalist Julie Zickefoose.

According to the museum, the Audubon prints will be accompanied by works by other important natural history artists whose lives spanned the 18th through early 21st century. These include predecessors such as Mark Catesby, contemporaries including Alexander Wilson, Francois Levaillant, and John Gould, and later artists such as Francis Lee Jaques, Roger Tory Peterson and Charley Harper. The exhibition offers an excellent opportunity for visitors to see the works of many different artists together in one location.

The video below is an excerpt from The Lost Bird Project, a documentary directed by Deborah Dickinson and produced by Muffie Meyer. It tells “the stories of five birds driven to extinction in modern times and sculptor Todd McGrain’s project to memorialize them.” This segment records McGrain’s reactions to viewing prints from an original folio edition of Audubon’s Birds of America owned by Cornell University. Among the prints highlighted are the Carolina Parakeet, the Labrador Duck (Pied Duck), the Passenger Pigeon, and the Great Auk.