My mom is an artist. When I was growing up she challenged me to see the world with “seeing eyes,” meaning to look for details and differences. I loved being outdoors in the fields and woods around my house. I explored the brook and the marsh. I loved the flowers and the birds best. That’s how I came to know about John James Audubon.
Later, I learned more about him and saw his work with new eyes. When I read about the current exhibition at the Currier Museum of Art I wanted to go. I did. ” From Birds to Beasts: Audubon’s Last Great Adventure” is terrific. It is set up so that both kids and adults will enjoy it. The exhibition shows Audubon’s artwork of the quadrupeds (four-footed animals) of North America – there are a few birds too. Eight of the animals our class chose as important in our states are on display and they are stunning! Make sure you grab the free Art, Nature and Adventure Journal, designed to help you use the exhibition to learn characteristics of different animals and discover more about Audubon’s artistic process. Use the second part to do some outdoor sketching of your own.
These books, and others, helped me learn more about Audubon and his life. Did you know he was the first person to learn that some birds come back and use the same nest year after year? Did you know he was the first person to band a bird and that before he proved birds migrate, scientists believed “small birds gathered themselves in a great ball, clinging beak to beak, wing to wing, and foot to foot, and lay under water all winter, frozen-like”?
The way Audubon collected animals for his work would seem unusual today, but the accomplishments of his work and the legacy he left for those who love nature remains important. This exhibit is wonderful. I hope you’ll be able to go. Kids under 13 are free and if you go between 10 and noon on Saturday, the museum is free to NH residents. When you go, let me know what picture stands out to you. The ones I shared in this post stood out to me, but there are others too – the armadillo, the lynx, the polar bear… Enjoy!