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From the Stacks 

August 28, 2014

Artist in Residence – T Edward Bak

T EDWARD BAK was born in Denver, but is drawn to travel and frequently migrates throughout North America. He began WILD MANa graphic novel about the voyages of Georg Steller,after exploring Southeast Alaska’s Inside Passage. Since then he has conducted research in the Aleutian archipelago and St. Petersburg, Russia. His stories have been featured in The Oregon History Comics series, Drawn and Quarterly Showcase, The Best American Comics 2008, The Graphic Canon, and MOME, where WILD MAN was originally serialized.

Bak’s research and interest in the natural history of the Aleutians, the Era of Discovery, and his ability to convey  this complex history to a wide audience made him a perfect match for a One Truth, Many Lies artist residency.  The artists chosen for the residency share their work with the public through programs on the public floor of the California Academy of Sciences.

project lab

Museum visitors watch live drawing in the Project Lab.

in the project lab

T Edward Bak drawing ornithological specimens in the Project Lab.

On Friday the 6th of July, Bak worked in the Academy’s Project Lab, located on the public floor of the museum. Utilizing specimens from the Ornithology and Mammalogy Collection, Bak showcased his research and illustration skills to the museum visitors.

skull sketch

Bak’s drawing of a sea lion skull from the Academy’s Skulls exhibit.

specimen research

Bak paints specimens from the Naturalist Center collection.

library research

Bak conducting library research.


Over the weekend, bak was able to do more research of voyages of discovery. From the Academy Library’s Rare Book Collection, Bak was able to view expedition narratives from Mark Catesby and William Dampier.

connect with a scientist

Bak signs a copy of his graphic novel, Island of Memory, for a young museum visitor.

On Sunday, Bak participated in the Academy’s renowned Connect with a Scientist Program, speaking about his research and taking questions from members of the public.

For information on upcoming workshops and museum events, click here.

One Truth, Many Lies: A New View of Art & Natural History Collections is made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. www.imls.gov

-writing and photos by Diane T Sands.


October 11, 2013

New Reading Room exhibit celebrates Alexander Wilson (1766-1813)

Portrait of Alexander Wilson (public domain)

Portrait of Alexander Wilson (public domain)

2013 is the 200th anniversary of Alexander Wilson’s death.

Born in Scotland in 1766, Wilson was apprenticed to his brother-in-law, a weaver.  He was also a poet, and some of his satirical works saw him running afoul of the law.  At the age of 27, Wilson moved to Philadelphia, where he met William Bartram, the botanist and author generally considered to be America’s first native-born naturalist.  Bartram fostered and encouraged the young man’s interest in birds, and in 1802 Wilson decided to publish a work illustrating all the birds of North America. This effort was distinguished by Wilson’s emphasis on observation of live birds in their natural habitats, rather than relying primarily on already-dead specimens and birds in captivity.

Nine volumes of Wilson’s American Ornithology were published from 1808-1814. Volume 9 was published posthumously by George Ord, one of Wilson’s friends and executor of his estate. Alexander Wilson died in August of 1813 at the age of 47, succumbing to an illness that set in after he swam into a river, fully clothed, to secure a bird specimen.

American Ornithology depicts 268 species, including many first described by Wilson. His admirers and peers worked to expand American Ornithology after Wilson’s death, issuing supplements and further editions in an effort to complete his goal to illustrate all the birds of North America.

For more information: click here

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dsands @ 6:24 pm

April 6, 2010

Tweet, tweet! Daily wildlife Twitter experiment

Despite intermittent downpours here in San Francisco, I daresay that Spring has sprung in beautiful Golden Gate Park.  The tulips are blooming in the Queen Wilhelmina Tulip Garden, the Calla lilies are taking over JFK Drive, and birds of all shapes and sizes are happily hunkering down over their nests. Apparently in California, the return of cliff swallows (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota) to Mission San Juan Capistrano is said to be a harbinger of spring. Although these days swallows seem to favor nesting sites besides the Mission, and problematically arrive before spring does.


Cliff Swallow from the Manzanita Image Project
Dr. Lloyd Glenn Ingles © California Academy of Sciences

I love this time of year, when the weather gets warmer but everything is still green.  In my daily life, I am both a distance runner and a bicyclist.  I commute to the Academy by bicycle every day, and most days I run outside as well.  I’m in and around Golden Gate Park on foot or on a bike several times a day, and I’ve started to notice more and more of the plants and animals around me (especially as the days grow longer and sunnier).

I don’t listen to music while I run.  But I still seek some distraction to take my mind off the fact that I’m running even though no one is chasing me.  In graduate school, I used the time to plan out my assignments.  If I’m desperate, I’ll do math problems just to take my mind off things.  I’ve resorted to the “If a train leaves Springfield traveling 85 miles per hour…” variety of word problem more than once.  Lately, I’m trying to identify and remember some of the wildlife I see while out and about in the Park.

I’m challenging myself to notice, identify, and remember at least 2 animals or plants I see on every run.  To keep myself honest, I’m going to tweet about my findings, reporting my sightings in 140 characters or less. I’ll include links to images so you can get a look at our co-inhabitants of Golden Gate Park.

First tweet is already out!  Not following me on Twitter yet?  You’ll find me @tiny_librarian (http://twitter.com/tiny_librarian).

Filed under: Uncategorized — Librarian @ 2:14 pm

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