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“Home to Roost” exhibition takes flight on Sept. 26

Audobon's "Red-shouldered Hawk."

Lehigh University’s Special Collections will unveil a new exhibition, “Home to Roost: Ornithological Collections at Lehigh University,” on Wednesday, Sept. 26 in four different venues inside the recently renovated Linderman Library.

The exhibition opening will be marked by a reception at 4:15 p.m in the Linderman Gallery (Level G), followed by talks by Lois Fischer Black, curator of Special Collections, and by Barbara Malt, professor of psychology at Lehigh and co-author of the book, Birds of the Lehigh Valley and Vicinity.

Black will introduce viewers to John James Audubon’s monumental book Birds of America, and Malt will add perspectives on local bird populations.

The reception and talks will be followed by a 6 p.m. showing of the documentary John James Audubon: Drawn from Nature, from the PBS American Master series

Lehigh University acquired an extensive collection of natural history books in the latter part of the 19th century, thanks in large part to the generosity of Asa Packer, founder of the university, according to Black. The collection included not only Audubon’s Birds of America, but also works by John Gould, Georges Buffon, and Alexander Wilson.

The new exhibition will feature examples of some of the most noteworthy natural history and scientific art that was produced as ornithology gained ground as a scientific discipline, Black says.

This past spring, Audubon’s drawing of the Stanley Hawk (today known as Cooper’s Hawk), was on display in the custom exhibition case in the main lobby of Linderman Library, which was acquired through the generosity of Marc Particelli, ‘68, and Ryan Particelli, ‘04.

Throughout the current exhibition, the display case will contain drawings of the red-shouldered hawk from Volume I of the “double elephant” folio of Birds of America , (London, 1827-38). Because of the immense size of the plates, each one was printed and colored by hand, and is very rare, Black says.

“Initially offered by subscription, fewer than 200 complete sets were produced,” she says. “This magnificent work of art is distinguished by life-size depictions of 435 different species of North American birds.”

Volume IV of the work is also currently on display in Zoellner Art Center’s Lower Art Gallery. Acquired for Lehigh University’s library in 1884, Birds of America is housed in Special Collections.


“Home to Roost: Ornithological Collections at Lehigh University” will open on Wednesday, Sept. 26, and run through Friday, Dec. 21. For more information, call (610) 758-3039 or visit the Friends of the Lehigh Libraries Web site.

--Linda Harbrecht

Posted on Tuesday, September 18, 2007

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