News for Immediate Release
Museum Opens Special Exhibit “A Fondness for Birds: Pennsylvania’s Alexander
Harrisburg - The State Museum of Pennsylvania
will open the special exhibit “A Fondness for Birds: Pennsylvania’s
Alexander Wilson,” to the public on Friday, May 16, 2014. Hailed as the first
artist-writer to scientifically capture and document American birds from life
in naturalistic poses, Wilson’s published work preceded John James Audubon’s
famous illustrations by a decade.
exhibit, which will run through March 15, 2015, will feature bird prints and
first edition volumes of the 200 year-old “American Ornithology” series by
Wilson. He is largely recognized as the father of American ornithology, which
is the study of birds.
can see the exhibit for free from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on opening night as it
is one of the museum’s featured offerings for “3rd in the Burg,” Harrisburg’s
monthly celebration of arts and entertainment.
Wilson was a Scottish immigrant and poet who came to Philadelphia in the 1790s.
He befriended a number of citizen-scientist luminaries of his day, including
artist and museum pioneer Charles Willson Peale and naturalist William Bartram
of the noted Bartram’s Garden.
claimed he was “…biased, almost from infancy, by a fondness for birds,” hiked
throughout Pennsylvania and much of the eastern United States to identify and
draw America’s birds. He compiled his detailed bird portraits in
“American Ornithology,” a 9-volume set of hand-colored engravings. He sold them
to subscribers across the country, including Thomas Jefferson and the
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Library of Pennsylvania is loaning the Commonwealth’s original and recently
conserved set of “American Ornithology” volumes to The State Museum for the
exhibition. Also featured in the exhibit will be a number of bird
specimens from the museum’s Botany and Zoology collections, some of which date
to the late 19th century.
specimens underscore the museum’s historic and continuing role in the study of
Pennsylvania’s flora and fauna. The Pennsylvania Game Commission has
provided ornithological and educational assistance to the Wilson exhibit with
fresh insights into Wilson’s legacy and the critical role of bird conservation
in Pennsylvania today.
for Birds” will be the first exhibit presented in a new natural history gallery
created on The State Museum’s third floor adjacent to its long-standing and
popular Mammal Hall. The project is a new cooperative initiative by the
Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) to use the natural history
and sciences expertise of a number of state agencies to create new exhibits and
programming promoting an appreciation of Pennsylvania’s natural history.
Natural History Advisory Committee includes the Department of Conservation and
Natural Resources, the Department of Environmental Protection, the Fish and
Boat Commission, and the Game Commission.
Museum of Pennsylvania, adjacent to the State Capitol in Harrisburg, is one of
25 historic sites and museums administered by the Pennsylvania Historical and
Museum Commission as part of the Pennsylvania Trails of History®. The State
Museum offers expansive collections interpreting
Pennsylvania’s fascinating heritage. Museum hours are Wednesday through
Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. Admission is $5 for
adults, $4 for children and senior citizens.
information about the museum, visit www.statemuseumpa.org.
Media contact: Howard Pollman, 717-705-8639