The Birds of America; from Original Drawings by John James Audubon (1827-38) is one of two works—along with the  Gutenberg Bible—on permanent view at the Beinecke Library; these extraordinarily beautiful and important books have been exhibited in purpose-built cases on the Beinecke’s mezzanine level since the Library’s opening in 1963.

Though the library’s marble-panel “windows” keep the light levels low in our upstairs exhibition area, even small amounts of light can damage books and paper over time. In order to preserve these works for the ages, the pages of both The Birds of America and the Gutenberg Bible are turned several times a year, limiting the light exposure to any one page opening.

READ more about these books: Seeing ​the Gutenberg Bible & ​The Birds of America 


The Beinecke Library’s exhibition galleries are currently closed; updates about the reopening of the Library’s exhibition galleries will be posted on the Library’s website: https://beinecke.library.yale.edu/.


New page openings in The Birds of America will be on view on the following dates:

2021-2022 Exhibitions: What’s in a Name?
Considering the once-common practice of naming flora, fauna, and landscape features for the person who “discovered” them and the contemporary call to replace so-called eponymous bird names with descriptive alternatives. 

Copies 1 & 2 of Volume 4 will be on view; three plates will be installed in rotation: 

Fall Dates TBD

Winter Dates TBD
Copy 1: Plate CCCLXXXVIII (388): Nuttall’s Starling, Yellow-headed Troopial, Bullock’s Oriole<
Copy 2: Plate CCCXCV (395): Audubon’s Warbler, Hermit Warbler, Black-throated Gray Warbler

Spring Dates TBD
Copy 1: PPlate CCCXCV (395): Audubon’s Warbler, Hermit Warbler, Black-throated Gray Warbler
Copy 2: Plate CCCLXII (362): Yellow-billed Magpie, Steller’s Jay, Ultramarine Jay, Clark’s Crow


Past Installations

2019-2020 Exhibitions: The Lost Birds of Audubon
Featuring birds that were plentiful during Audubon’s life but that became extinct or were rendered “critically endangered” by the turn of the twentieth century.

1/3–September: Volume 1 (copy 1) Plate XXVI (26) — Carolina Parrot & Volume 1 (copy 2) Plate LXII (62) — Passenger Pigeon

2/3–January: Volume 1 (copy 1) Plate LXII (62) — Passenger Pigeon & Volume 1 (copy 2) Plate LVXI (66) — Ivory-Billed Woodpecker

Exhibition Cancelled – 3/3–April: Volume 1 (copy 1) Plate LVXI (66) — Ivory-Billed Woodpecker & Volume 1 (copy 2) Plate XXVI (26) — Carolina Parrot

2018-2019 Exhibtions: Audubon’s Creative Process

Featuring John James Audubon’s watercolors from the New York Historical Socity fascimile set alongside completed plates in the Double Elephant Folio

1/3–August 30: Volume II (Copy 2): Plate CLXXXI (181) Golden Eagle A Missing Self Portrait

2/3–January 17, 2019: Volume II (Copy 2) Barn Owl: Plate CLXXI (171) Audubon’s Collaborator

3/3–April 29: Volume 2 (Copy 2): Plate CII (102) Blue Jay – Image and Narrative

September 5, 2017 -January 8, 2018, The Double Elephant Folio: Volume III (Copy 2): Plate CCXI (211) – Great Blue Heron & Volume III (Copy 1): Plate CCLI (251) – Brown Pelican

January 19, 2018,  Audubon the Hunter: Volume III (Copy 2): Plate CCXLI (241) Greater Black Backed Gull & Volume III (Copy 1): Plate CCXLII (242) – Snowy Heron, or White Egret

May 3, 2018, In the Background: Volume III (Copy 2): Plate CCVII (207) – Booby Gannet & Volume III (Copy 1): Plate CCLXXI (271) – Frigate Pelican

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