The Pursuit of Beauty

Location: Kohl Gallery

November 16, 2012
The exhibition of rare illustrations by Audubon and other top naturalists, which has received high praise from Robert McCracken Peck, runs through November 30. The Kohl Gallery will be open Thanksgiving Weekend.

Only a few days remain to take in the Kohl Gallery’s exhibit In Pursuit of Beauty, recently lauded by noted naturalist, author, and natural history scholar Robert McCracken Peck for being “so engaging that everyone seeing it wants to stay, and almost anyone of any age leaves having learned something whether they had intended to or not.” 

“Of the many book exhibits I have seen in museums and libraries across the United States and around the world during my 35-year professional career, I can think of very few that have matched In Pursuit of Beauty for its aesthetic and educational quality,” says Peck, Curator of Art and Artifacts and Senior Fellow of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University. It offers “the perfect balance of rigorous scholarship and public accessibility, with spectacular books, prints, and paintings, engaging and informative text, and an aesthetically pleasing installation.”

The Kohl Gallery will offer special hours over the Thanksgiving weekend so visitors can see In Pursuit of Beauty: John J. Audubon and the Golden Age of Bird Illustration. The Gallery will be open Wednesday, Nov. 21, and Friday through Sunday, Nov. 23 - 25, from 1:00 to 6:00 p.m. The exhibition reopens for its final few days on Wednesday, Nov. 28, and comes to an end Friday, Nov. 30.

This exquisite collection of rare volumes and prints features illustrations by some of the finest artists of the 19th and early 20th centuries. The 20 books and 19 prints in the exhibit, on loan from private collections, showcase works by Audubon and other great but lesser-known naturalists—William Beebe, Charles Lucien Bonaparte, Daniel Giraud Elliot, John Gould, and Alexander Wilson. Highlights include an original Audubon watercolor of a pheasant that has rarely, if ever, been displayed, and a 17th-century book with a decree by King James granting his subjects the right to hunt birds on Sundays. (Click here to watch a video about the installation of In Pursuit of Beauty.)

“In conceiving and organizing the exhibition, curator Alex Castro and his assistant, Sean Mead, took a refreshing interdisciplinary approach to the subject,” Peck says. “They took full advantage of the materials available for display, then enhanced them by creating an immersive experience for visitors (complete with bird songs).”

Located on the ground floor of the Gibson Center for the Arts on the Washington College campus, 300 Washington Avenue, the Kohl Gallery is normally open Wednesday through Sunday from 1 to 6 p.m. and closed Monday and Tuesday. For more information on the gallery visit

Last modified on Dec. 3rd, 2012 at 5:11pm by Diane Landskroener.