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Audubon's Aviary: Natural Selection at the New-York Historical Society
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Audubon's Aviary: Natural Selection at the New-York Historical Society

- In the Galleries: Arts and Education

Audubonís Aviary: Natural Selection
Audubon Watercolors
March 30, 2007 Ė May 20, 2007
At the
New-York Historical Society
www.nyhistory.org
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
212.873.3400
Press: Laura Washington, Randi Hoffman
Rubenstein Communications, Inc.


Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
March 29, 2007


(See a Review of Audubonís Unknown Mammals)

(Text assisted by Society press notes).
Audubonís Aviary: Natural Selection, opened today, simultaneously, at the New-York Historical Society, with its partner-exhibit at the Museum of Natural Historyís newly restored Audubon Gallery, called The Unknown Audubons: Mammals of North America. Admission to one museum allows same-day admission to the other, during these crossover exhibitions. The Historical Societyís exhibition presents 43 watercolors by John James Audubon, some of his final works, of birds that might be seen in Central Park, across the street, or by a lake or pond or forest glen. Each painting is matched with a high-tech, recorded birdcall, created by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. There is also a video of close-ups of these same birds in their natural habitats, with descriptions of their habits and colorings.

Added to this exhibit, in an accompanying document, is a list of 425 birds, signed in 1837 by Audubon and Napoleonís nephew, Charles Lucien Bonaparte. Bonaparte was a well known ornithologist also skilled in taxonomy. Also on display are the Historical Societyís copy of a folio edition of The Birds of America and two hand-colored plate proofs, plus three volumes of the folioís text. Audubonís Aviary: Natural Selection is the third in a five-part, annual series at the Historical Society, which owns the largest permanent Audubon collection. The Curator is Roberta J. M. Olson, and she has showcased groupings of Audubonís drawings of the same subject, such as a trio of watercolors of the Great Egret, with informative notes posted nearby. Because of the New-York Historical Societyís vast Audubon collection, such fine-tuning and nuance is possible to inform the viewer of Audubonís artistic development and perfection.

Natural selection, the theme of this yearís Audubon Aviary, refers to the fact that birds with traits favorable to their environment survive and reproduce better than do those with traits less favorable to the surroundings. Charles Darwin introduced this concept in his 1859 The Origin of Species. Darwin and Audubon were contemporaries. Audubon, once a portrait painter, drew his birds life-size, depicting those characteristic traits that fascinated him. The Historical Society, in conjunction with this exhibit, is also offering gallery tours and Central Park bird walks. Visit www.nyhistory.org for more information on current and future events.



Baltimore Oriole
Photo courtesy of Denis Finnin/AMNH



Bluewinged Warbler
Photo courtesy of Denis Finnin/AMNH



Little Blue Heron
Photo courtesy of Denis Finnin/AMNH



Common Tern
Photo courtesy of Denis Finnin/AMNH



Anhinga
Photo courtesy of Denis Finnin/AMNH



American Dipper
Photo courtesy of Denis Finnin/AMNH



Orchard Oriole
Photo courtesy of Denis Finnin/AMNH



American Dipper
Photo courtesy of Denis Finnin/AMNH



Redtailed Hawk
Photo courtesy of Denis Finnin/AMNH



Great Egret
Photo courtesy of Denis Finnin/AMNH



Common Tern
Photo courtesy of Denis Finnin/AMNH



Anhinga
Photo courtesy of Denis Finnin/AMNH




For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at zlokower@bestweb.net