February 4, 2021 – May 2, 2021

John James Audubon's "Birds of America" | A Return to Pequot Library

In collaboration with the Fairfield University Art Museum and their exhibition Birds of the Northeast: Gulls to Great Auks, Pequot Library is excited to announce a return visit to Southport of Audubon’s Birds of America, the Bien Edition.

In 1858, John James Audubon’s youngest son, John Woodhouse Audubon, decided to re-issue his father’s masterwork.  Julius Bien of New York, working with the latest techniques in chromolithography, was contracted as the lithographer, and thus the resulting volume is referred to as “The Bien Edition”.

Audubon carried his portfolio, weighing about 100 lbs., with him as he tried to find subscribers for his work.  Like his father, John Woodhouse Audubon attempted to underwrite the production with subscriber contributions.  However, the onset of the Civil War ended the Bien edition, and the high costs of the production left the Audubon family with considerable debt.  An estimated 75-100 copies were made, though in 1976 only 49 bound volumes of the Bien Edition were catalogued worldwide.

Among the related selections on display will be Mabel Osgood Wright’s A Year with the Birds: A guide to the naming of 100 birds commonly seen in Connecticut, published in 1905.  Audubon’s ornithological studies from the past shine a light on recurring ecological concerns.  On display will be Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring from 1962, a rallying cry that still resonates today.  A collection of bird books from Pequot’s Children’s Historical Collection are on view along with The Little White Bird or Adventures in Kensington Gardens by J. M. Barrie, written for taller children and where Barrie introduces his beloved scamp, Peter Pan.

Come and enjoy the return visit of “the Audubon!”  Page turnings will highlight several specimens including, among others, the Wild Turkey – a fan favorite –, the American Flamingo, the Great Auk, and many more.

Come see the exhibition in person during limited library hours.

Learn more about the exhibition and related programs.

Upcoming Exhibitions

Pequot Library’s exhibitions feature a variety of theme-based curated selections from our Special Collections of rare books, manuscripts, and archives. Some displays include contemporary books and artwork that highlight and complement each subject’s relevance to modern life and culture. Pequot Library is unique thanks to its Special Collections of over 30,000 rare books, manuscripts, and archives, which offer a vibrant portrait of the culture and history of the United States, nature, science, literature, and the arts.

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