In this intimate gallery, visitors will have the unique experience of viewing John James Audubon’s spectacular watercolor models for the 435 plates of The Birds of America (1827–38) with their corresponding plates from the double-elephant-folio series, engraved by Robert Havell Jr. It will feature monthly migrations in publication order that showcase the artist’s creative process and his contributions to ornithological illustration. The initial centerpiece on view will be the season-appropriate Wild Turkey: Audubon’s watercolor and the engraving, together with the copper plate on loan from the American Museum of Natural History. Other works from New-York Historical’s collection, the world’s largest repository of Auduboniana, will illuminate Audubon’s process, and bird calls courtesy of The Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology will animate the environment. Curated by Roberta J.M. Olson, curator of drawings.
Exhibitions at the New-York Historical Society are made possible by Dr. Agnes Hsu-Tang and Oscar Tang, the Saunders Trust for American History, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.
Bird of the Month: The Wild Turkey
Heavily hunted since the earliest days of European occupation had destroyed huge swaths of its range by logging and land clearing, Wild Turkey populations reached a nadir in the early 1930s with about 30,000 birds. Already in his lifetime Audubon had noted their declining numbers. Today, after a massive trap-and-transfer effort spanning more than a quarter of a century, about seven million wild turkeys strut and gobble around the country. This inspiring wildlife conservation story involved the National Wild Turkey Federation, founded in 1973, which has helped acquire and conserve habitat for the species. While Wild Turkey numbers are stable, biologists in southeastern states, a turkey stronghold, are concerned that populations are tumbling, in some areas shrinking by more than half with the quantity of poults dropping steeply. This suggests there there are underlying problems with their habitats.