Audubon and the Art of Birds

Today, the name Audubon is synonymous with birds and the conservation of nature. But who was John James Audubon, and what did he do to inspire such a following? This exhibition will give visitors the rare opportunity to view an extensive collection of the original “double-elephant” prints from The Birds of America, the work that made him famous. Produced from 1826 to 1838, the images revolutionized our view of birds and nature.

The exhibition traces Audubon’s remarkable life, then puts his work in context with examples of earlier bird illustrations, works by his contemporaries and the continuation of the artistic fascination with birds up to the present day.

Audubon and The Art of Birds Fact Sheet (.pdf)
Audubon and The Art of Birds Exhibition Prospectus (.pdf)

Traveling Exhibition Outline:

  • 35 Double-elephant folio Audubon prints (most framed 30x40, larger images 34x44)
  • Approximately 60 works by other bird artists
  • Prints and cultural ephemera bearing Audubon images
  • Picture caption and biographical labels for each artist
  • 8 theme areas: Cataloging Creation, Exploration and Discovery, The Beauty of Birds, The Living Bird, Bird Book Evolution, Birds and Conservation, Birds in the Environment, Life and Death in Bird Art
  • 4-6 Interpretive panels about Audubon (illustrations and text)
  • 2 title banners, 4 large graphic scrims (enlargements of Audubon images)
  • Exhibition guide to artists and artwork
  • Selection of reference books for reading area
  • Audubon video
  • Bird song sound environment
  • "Draw like Audubon" interactive station
  • Bird biology activities (specimens with interpreter led activities)

Size: 300 linear feet, 3,000 sf

Security: High

Security and Environmental Requirements:

  • Displayed in a limited access gallery that is monitored by staff when open and locked, secured and alarmed when closed. Surveillance cameras in gallery are recommended.
  • Unpacking, installation, deinstallation and re-packing must take place in gallery or similarly secured and environmentally controlled staging and storage areas.
  • Handling of objects must be done only by trained and experienced museum professionals.
  • Provisions must be taken to prevent public from touching non-enclosed objects.
  • Gallery climate conditions must be maintained within 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit and 40 to 50 percent relative humidity.
  • No direct sunlight. Light levels for works on paper limited to 5 footcandles.

Fee: TBD

Available starting summer 2014

All questions about Audubon and The Art of Birds can be directed to Don Luce, Curator of Exhibits, (612) 624-1342 or

Exhibition Highlights

  • 35 double-elephant folio prints from Audubon's Birds of America
  • 60 works by other bird artists from the Renaissance to the present day
  • Bound set of the smaller Octavo edition of Birds of America
  • The rare Bien edition of the Birds of America with chromolithographic prints
  • Bound set of the Ornithological Biography
  • A variety of Audubon reproduction prints, and other Audubon ephemera
  • A large collection of books about Audubon
  • Interpretive panels and displays
  • Hands-on exhibits of bird biology
  • Educational materials and programs