Renowned naturalist’s work to be featured in new exhibit

JAMESTOWN – The Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History announces “Roger Tory Peterson: The Art of the Line,” a new exhibition of artwork by the 20th century naturalist, opening at the Institute Jan. 22 and running through May 12.

Roger Tory Peterson (1908-1996) was best known as America’s king of bird watching and field identification. His landmark book, “A Field Guide to the Birds,” first published in 1934, started a 62-year career as a field guide author, illustrator and editor that continues to inform and inspire us to know and love nature firsthand.

Yet, the color plates that grace the pages of Peterson’s field guides were only part of his life as a visual interpreter of nature. Often the most practical way for Peterson to make his point was in black and white with India ink and crow-quill pen. This exhibition celebrates Peterson’s mastery of this age-old art form with a display of over 50 rare originals from the Institute’s permanent collection, never before seen by the public.

Peterson illustrated several popular books with his pen-and-ink drawings. Among these were “How to Know the Birds” (1949), “Wild America” (1955), “The Bird Watcher’s Anthology” (1957), and “Penguins” (1979). This exhibition features work used to illustrate these four books, which Peterson produced during perhaps his busiest, most productive and influential period.

Peterson learned to draw at New York’s Art Students League and National Academy of Design and refined his practice throughout his career.

The institute also is featuring a wide range of Peterson’s original field guide art and many of his iconic gallery paintings, as well as the Randolph mammoth, a fossil excavated in Randolph in 1934 on loan from the New York State Museum. The institute is located at 311 Curtis St. in Jamestown and is open to the public Tuesdays through Saturdays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays, 1 to 5 p.m. For more information, call 665-2473 or visit