April 24, 2021—July 25, 2021
Rare and Wondrous: Birds in Art and Culture 1620-1820
Corresponding with an age of exploration, colonialism and the rise of the great European trading companies, including the West African slave trade, intense interest in natural history and attempts to classify and categorize it grew as specimens were collected from around the world and brought back to Europe. In particular, ornithology, the study of birds and their classification, made great strides in the 1700s with many lavishly illustrated studies of birds being published during the century. This exhibition highlights images of exotic birds in art primarily from the 17th and 18th centuries that show how they became the objects of scientific inquiry, of popular interest, of status, and even of household decoration and personal adornment. It also features paintings, prints and decorative arts from the museum's collection as well as select loans of prints and illustrated books.