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Past Exhibits

-Wondrous Transformation of Caterpillars
-The Art of Natural History
-Mark Catesby
-Exotic Botany
-Mammals: Audubon's Final Journey
-Alexander Wilson
-Drawn from the Sea
-Empire Elegance: the age of Redouté
-Preserving Audubon: The Bien Edition Restoration
-The Plant Hunters
-The Illustrated Bird
-New Treasures: Recent Museum Acquisitions
-Painting History
-Artistry & Necessity
-Omnis Ex Ovo
-Daring Pursuits
-Garden of Earthly Delights
-Bishop & the Apothecary
-Images from the Sea Shore
-People of the Sky: Bird Spirits in American Indian
-Beauty & Science; the orchid evolves
-The Bird Man: John Gould and his Illustrators
-The Whole Flock: Audubon's Songbirds
-The Whole Flock: Audubon's Waterbirds
-Deep: Sea monsters and early depositions of deeps

  Daring Pursuits
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October 7, 2005—January 3, 2006

Great contributions were made to science by oceangoing voyages in the 19th century. Although the purposes of these expeditions were primarily political and commercial, a wealth of scientific information was also gathered by naturalists and artists commissioned to collect and draw specimens. Thousands of new plants, animals, and minerals were discovered. Returning home, the work of preserving and describing the specimens employed the leading researchers of the day with their findings later published in lavishly illustrated scientific reports.

This fall in the Maximus Gallery, we profile four of these daring pursuits that yielded fascinating collections and significant publications. Included will be illustrated atlases from the first American government sponsored scientific expedition, the U. S. Exploring Expedition (1838-1842) commanded by its controversial leader, Lt. Charles Wilkes

After nearly four years at sea, the U.S. navy flagship Vincennes entered New York Harbor. Along with five other vessels, it had sailed to Tahiti and Samoa, explored the coast of Antarctica and Australia and visited the Hawaiian Islands before traveling to the Pacific Northwest to survey the Oregon coast and San Francisco Bay. In spite of spectacular accomplishments, what followed was years of struggle for Wilkes who pleaded for congressional appropriations to publish expedition reports and preserve the collections. He published a five volume narrative of the voyage based on his journals and notes and oversaw publications on, zoology, botany, geology and anthropology. The massive collections brought back from all parts of the globe eventually became part of the fledgling Smithsonian Museum.



Zoological illustrations from the Atlas de Zoologie, voyage of the Vénus, 1846



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