Never-before-seen Roger Tory Peterson originals on display at RTPI

JAMESTOWN The Roger Tory Peterson Institute announces the opening of a new exhibition featuring rare original art never before displayed. Roger Tory Peterson: The Art of the Line is now open to the public and will run through May 12.

Jamestown’s Roger Tory Peterson (1908-1996) was best known for his landmark book, A Field Guide to the Birds, which started his career as a field guide author, illustrator and editor that continues to inform and inspire to know and love nature firsthand.

However, bird book illustrations were only part of Peterson’s life as a nature educator. Often the most practical way for Peterson to make his point was with India ink and crow-quill pen. This exhibition celebrates his mastery of this age-old medium 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 brilliantly executed 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 and most influential period.

As with his field guide art, Peterson’s line drawings reveal his genius at image making that is as beautiful as it is correct. Peterson learned to draw from masters at New York’s Art Students League and National Academy of Design and refined his own practice as a master draftsman throughout his storied career. Studying these illustrations will give the viewer a new appreciation for Peterson’s life and work as the most celebrated naturalist of the 20th century.

The Peterson Institute also is featuring an exhibit titled, Roger Tory Peterson the Botanical Illustrator, featuring original color plates from his 1968 Peterson Field Guide to Wildflowers; an incredible display of fossils including a Columbian Mammoth excavated in Randolph, and additional art from the life work of Roger Tory Peterson. 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