Did you know that the New-York Historical Society houses the world's largest collection of Auduboniana? One of the great American artist-naturalists, John James Audubon (1785–1851) was the legendary rara avis who created the landmark Birds of America (1827–38). Experience highlights from Audubon’s spectacular watercolor models for the 435 plates of The Birds of America with their corresponding plates from the double-elephant-folio series, engraved by Robert Havell Jr. This intimate gallery—the only place in the world where one can see the artist's watercolor model, the Havell plate, and reduced octavo-edition exhibited together—features a bimonthly rotation that highlights a single species at a time. Each rotation also includes other watercolors and Auduboniana to showcase the artist’s creative process and his contributions to ornithological illustration. Curated by Roberta J.M. Olson, curator of drawings emerita.
Note: Due to the watercolor medium and its paper support, these light-sensitive works can only be displayed for short periods of time under low light levels. The gallery allows New-York Historical to share these national treasures with the public while preserving them for future generations.
Shop at the NYHistory Store! Browse Audubon-themed gifts, like the book Audubon's Aviary: The Original Watercolors for "The Birds of America", which traces the story behind Audubon's classic with new discoveries, fresh insights, and engaging quotes from Audubon's own writing.
Exhibitions at New-York Historical are made possible by Dr. Agnes Hsu-Tang and Oscar Tang, the Saunders Trust for American History, the Seymour Neuman Endowed Fund, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. WNET is the media sponsor.
Spotlighted Species: Bald Eagle
The Bald Eagle has been the national emblem of the United States since 1782 and a spiritual symbol for Indigenous Americans for far longer. Once abundant in North America, the species became rare in the mid-to-late 1900s—the victim of trapping, shooting, and poisoning as well as pesticide-caused reproductive failures. In 1978, the bird was listed under the Endangered Species Act. Since 1980, awareness by humans, together with the banning of DDT, have led to a dramatic resurgence. The species’ recovery is a spectacular conservation success story. Partners in Flight estimates the global breeding population at 250,000.