Audubon's Birds of America Exhibit Opens on Earth Day April 21 - June 24, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO (January 19, 2001) - For John James Audubon, art and science were one. The wonders of nature could not be captured through accuracy alone. They also required artistic vision to give them life. The newest exhibit at the California Academy of Sciences, opening April 21, displays forty-eight lithographs made from the original color engravings from Audubon's Birds of America, published in England between 1827 and 1838.

Included among the larger than life plates are the small and delicate Ruby-Throated Hummingbird, the extinct Passenger Pigeon, and the dramatic Great Horned Owl. Largely self-taught in both art and science, Audubon's scientific knowledge is confirmed by the subtle coloration, accurate anatomy, and typical attitudes he gives each bird species. But dramatic expressiveness and a bold sense of design earn him a prominent place among artists. His prints are unique in their ability to capture the vigor of nature.

Audubon's lifework was creating and publishing drawings of all of America's native birds, made possible by 30 years of field research, labor at the drawing board, a team of drawing and scientific assistants, and superb English printers. Audubon traveled the Ohio and Mississippi River basins going as far south as the Florida Keys studying birds and producing watercolors. At times he would leave his wife and family and venture to the American frontier, sometimes up to seven months, rising well before dawn and working his craft for 17 hours each day.

The first edition of the watercolors was produced in a large format style known as a double elephant folio. These enormous books measure 40" high x 27.5" wide and the California Academy of Sciences is one of the few owners of a rare complete set of four double elephant folios. The exhibit will include the display of one of the folios from the collection that was bequeathed to the Academy by Edward E. Hills in 1964. In addition to the collection of lithographs, the exhibit will include mounted specimens of birds from the Academy's ornithological collection.

The Academy will offer a wide selection of birding field trips from March through September. Offerings include trips to Mount Diablo, small parks and Land's End in San Francisco, Point Reyes National Seashore and Audubon Canyon Ranch, Pescadero and a kayak tour of West Marin Island. In June, a three-day trip to Oregon's refuge rich Klamath Basin will take birders on hikes and canoe trips. Course catalogs or additional information about the birding trips can be obtained by calling (415) 750-7098 or by visiting www.calacademy.org.

Birds of America opens April 21 and closes June 24, 2001.