Posts Tagged ‘Exhibitions’


Flamingo comes home!

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One of the first things I learned upon starting at the Watkinson was that our copy of the Birds of America, which was given to Trinity by one of its early graduates in 1900 (Dr. Gurdon Russell, Class of 1834), was incomplete.  Unfortunately, well before the current security measures were put in place, a professional thief had stolen two plates from the book in 1977.  One plate (no. 430, the Slender-billed Guillemot) was recovered from a Boston bookseller within a year of the theft—the man also stole from the Connecticut State Library, the Boston Public Library, the Peabody Institute, and the New Bedford Public Library in Massachusetts.  The other plate (431, the American Flamingo), was never recovered.  Fortunately, we were able to secure a copy of this plate (from another set, owned by a paper company in Alabama) at auction on September 28, so after 35 years, our set is complete again.

The fact remains, however, that somewhere out there, on someone’s wall (hopefully unbeknownst to them), is our copy of the Flamingo.  Maybe someday we’ll find our wayward bird, but in the meantime, we will cherish our adopted one.

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The Eagle Has Landed

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Actually, it’s the Yellow-billed Cuckoo–but in any case, the Audubon is now “in situ” and open to Volume I Plate II — ready for viewing!  We will turn the page each Monday (or Tuesday, if Monday is a holiday) for the next 8.5 years and enjoy 433 new birds (Plate I, the turkey, was on display all summer, and so has done its duty; in fact, given the approach of Thanksgiving, we think it wants to keep a low profile).

This plate (along with the other first five) was engraved by William Lizars in January 1827.

The choice of the first five plates was intentional, and the sequence was planned by Audubon during his tour of the Great Lakes in 1824.  They included images of one large (turkey), one medium (Canada warbler) and three smaller species (yellow-billed cuckoos, purple finches, and prothonotary warblers).

Fifty copies were “struck off” for coloring, and Audubon was able to present the first set of five plates to the Royal Society of Edinburgh on February 5, 1827, with the venerable Sir Walter Scott in attendance.  Audubon was scrambling to gather subscriptions to pay for the work.

This exhibition is now open, but a more formal opening will be held on Thursday November 3rd.  Prof. Christoph Irmscher from Indiana University (his faculty profile is here) will deliver a lecture entitled “How To Read Audubon.”  Dr. Irmscher edited the Library of America edition of Audubon’s works, and writes on nineteenth-century American and Canadian literature, early American nature writing, and ecocriticism.From 4:00 – 5:00pm we will have all four volumes on display in the Reading Room, with Dr. Irmscher and myself on hand to answer questions.  At 5:00pm professor Irmscher will deliver his talk in the Joslin Family 1823 Room, and we will hold a reception.

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After almost a year (we began this journey last November), the permanent display area for our amazing set of John James Audubon’s Birds of America is finally complete.

Next week, we will begin turning the pages (every Monday–or if it’s a holiday–Tuesday), and Trinity will get to see a new bird every week for the next 8 years or so.  I will likely be blogging about some of the more well-known or quirky ones, but hopefully we’ll start to see some regulars coming in just to see the new bird!  The turkey (plate I) was on display all summer, so we’ll give the poor fellow a rest (especially since Thanksgiving is around the corner).  But here’s a pic of him (with a volume of the Library of America edition of Audubon’s works shown for scale):

Mark your calendars for THURSDAY NOVEMBER 3rd, the official opening of this permanent exhibit.  Dr. Christoph Irmscher, English professor at Indiana University and editor of the collection of Audubon’s works just mentioned, will be delivering a lecture on the production of the Birds of America over twenty years–it’s a grand tale indeed.  There will be a “review” of the four volumes in the Watkinson Reading Room from 4:00-5:00pm, and the lecture will start at 5:00 in the Joslin Family 1823 Room (Library Level 2).



Audubon case revealed!

   Posted by: rring    in Uncategorized

Today our carpenters took apart the shelving where the new  Audubon case is to be installed and un-crated the case.  We won’t take the case off the pallet until the wall is painted, so there’s still a bit of “under construction” feel to the Reading Room.  I figure we should be allowed at least as much slack as the Connecticut D.O.T.–and the Watkinson is so much more pleasant than Rte. 95!

The excellent feature of this particular piece of equipment is that one person can open the case, slide the bed out, turn the page, and slide the bed in, without any stress on the book or the human.  The glass is supported by gas struts, which raise automatically when it is unlocked.

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