The LSU Libraries will host a special viewing of the famed double elephant folio edition of John James Audubon’s Birds of America (London, 1827-1838). The viewing will be held in the McIlhenny Room of Hill Memorial Library on the LSU campus, on Saturday, May 3, 2014 from 10 am until 2 pm, and is free and open to the public with a reservation.
In addition to the viewing of Birds of America (and a few selected illustrated rare books), this year during Audubon Day, visitors will have the opportunity to view the new travelling exhibition which will be of interest to Audubon and bird enthusiasts. “I Remember: An Art Show of Environmental Significance,” produced by the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act (CWPPRA) Task Force in partnership with LSU Libraries’ T. Harry Williams Center for Oral History. The exhibition features oral histories, photographs and original art depicting individuals who work, live, and play in Louisiana’s coastal wetlands. Archival materials from LSU Libraries Special Collections complement “I Remember.” A full description of the exhibition is available here: http://exhibitions.blogs.lib.lsu.edu/?page_id=798
A renowned masterpiece of natural history art, the Birds of America records the rich bird and plant life Audubon saw and drew first-hand when he lived in Louisiana in the 1820s. The edition is known as the “elephant” folio because of its large size, with each of its 435 pages measuring 39 by 27 inches. Publication took eleven years, from 1827 to 1838. LSU’s copy of the Birds was purchased with a grant from the Crown Zellerbach Foundation in 1964, and it has been shown in various venues over the years.
In 2007, it was determined that LSU’s copy could no longer be shown safely due to structural damage to the bindings caused by their large size and other problems with individual plates. In 2008, the Coypu Foundation made a donation of $99,000 to enable conservation of this work by Etherington Conservation Services. Over the course of more than a year, the work was painstakingly completed. The final volume returned to the library on December 28, 2009. Thanks to the Coypu Foundation, one of the Libraries’ greatest treasures is now restored to fine condition and can again be shared with our community.
As part of the Audubon Day festivities, participating artists Lane Lefort (photographer) and Marian Brister Martinez (painter) will be on hand in the exhibit gallery to discuss their work currently on display as part of the “I Remember” exhibition. A representative from Marsh Dog will be available to talk about the company’s nutria-based dog food products, and its founding as a creative economic solution to address coastal wetlands loss.
CWPPRA is federal legislation enacted in 1990 that is designed to identify, prepare, and fund construction of coastal wetlands restoration projects. Since its inception, 151 coastal restoration or protection projects have been authorized, benefiting over 112,000 acres in Louisiana.
For more information on CWPPRA, visit lacoast.gov.
It is with pleasure that the Hill Memorial Library shares these remarkable volumes with the community. Audubon Day events are free and the public is welcome, but reservations are required and space is limited. Viewings of the folio volumes are scheduled to begin at 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 12 noon, and 1 p.m. Only 40 people can be admitted for each showing. Parking is readily accessible in the Indian Mounds lot, directly behind Hill Memorial Library. To request a reservation, visit the Libraries’ Special Collections website at http://www.lib.lsu.edu/special/audubon or call 225-578-6544 during business hours.
As an additional related lagniappe, on Sunday, May 4th, the day after LSU Libraries Special Collections’ Audubon Day, Bike Baton Rouge will lead a Vélo des Oiseaux (bird ride) under the guidance of Professor Phil Strouffer, ornithologist and ecologist at the LSU School of Renewable Natural Resources.
The group will meet at 4th Street and Spanish Town Road (the State Museum) at 8.00 AM, Sunday, May 4th. They will ride to the Capitol lakes to see what birds are active on the little lake across from the Governor’s mansion then head to the lake on the north side of the Capitol to see what’s there. From the Capitol we’ll head to the Levee Path and LSU. They will stop along the way where bird life is acitve. They may continue all the way down to the eagle nest by Farr Park. From the Levee they will come back to town via the University/City Park Lakes. Expect at least two and a half to three hours for the ride, though not continuous riding. Anyone under the age of 12 is required by law to wear a helmet. Bring water and a snack to share with others. Binoculars are useful though there will be a spotting telescope on hand.