John James Audubon first stepped onto American soil in 1803 at the age of 18. His lifelong fascination with birds culminated in one of the most ambitious books of illustrations ever published, The Birds of America. He traveled widely from Labrador to the Florida Keys collecting specimens for his series of 435 stunningly life-like watercolor and pastel illustrations. Engravers painstakingly converted those drawings into the printed images we recognize today. The project was funded by subscribers with a keen interest in North American flora and fauna, including French King Charles X and the Queen of England.
An original Audubon print is a rare bird. Subtle features distinguish them from millions of reproductions. Authenticating Audubon’s own story is vastly more complex.
The MAC is thrilled to present an exclusive collection of original prints, and a selection of drawings, paintings, manuscripts, and personal possessions that shed light on the man behind the masterpieces. Our exhibition tells the behind-the-scenes stories of the people, processes, and young nation that produced this American “original” who overcame so many obstacles to attain international recognition through his creativity and initiative.
We’re grateful to the John James Audubon State Park Museum in Henderson, Kentucky, for lending us art and artifacts, many of which have never been seen outside of Kentucky (where Audubon lived and worked for many years).
In conjunction with the Audubon exhibition, Justin Gibbens: Birds and Beasts
Trained in both scientific illustration and traditional Chinese fine line bird-and-flower painting, Thorp, Washington artist Justin Gibbens has been drawing animals and fauna since childhood. His subversive zoological watercolor drawings are inspired by both real-life specimens and natural history sources. He embellishes images, celebrating the beauty and strangeness of the natural world, blending scientific knowledge with myth and imagination. Gibbens’ images speak of evolution and biodiversity and serve as cautionary tales and stand-ins for our anthropocentric selves.
Museum and Store Hours
Tuesday–Sunday, 10:00 am-5:00 pm
$12 Adults (18+)
$10 Seniors (65+)
$10 College Students w/valid ID
$7 Children/Students (6-17)
Members and children 5 and under are free.