Museum open Wed–Mon, 10:00 AM–5:00 PM. Sea Center on Stearns Wharf open daily, 10:00 AM–5:00 PM.

A Parliament of Owls

300 Years of Owl Illustration

Through February 5, 2023

A group of owls is called a “parliament.” A captivating display of original antique prints traces the history of illustration of the owl family in the new Maximus Gallery exhibit.

Instantly recognizable and widely occurring everywhere, owls have been popular subjects throughout the recorded history of many cultures. Prominent members of the avian family, owls have been thought to possess wisdom, a sense of mystery, and solitude. Their striking features lend themselves to a variety of interpretations. A skilled artist was able to manifest a bird’s special character—its form, markings and coloring, and even behavior—in a way that a verbal description alone could not.

The prints on exhibit represent 300 years of illustration of owls by important French, English, German, Dutch, Italian, and American artists. From the majestic Great Horned and Snowy Owls to the smaller Short-eared, Burrowing, and Flammulated Owls, these images fascinate us with their range and diversity, from crude and eccentric to fully realized and naturalistic. Seeing them displayed together invites comparison of how they’ve been portrayed over the centuries.

Exhibit included in admission and free for Members.

Take a deep dive with our A Parliament of Owls Gallery Guide.