BATON ROUGE – The LSU Libraries will once again host a viewing of the famed double elephant folio edition of John James Audubon’s “Birds of America (London, 1827-1838),” during the libraries’ annual Audubon Day event on Saturday, Nov. 16, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the McIlhenny Room of Hill Memorial Library.
A renowned masterpiece of natural history art, “Birds of America” records the rich bird and plant life Audubon saw and drew first-hand when he lived in Louisiana in the 1820s. The edition is known as the “elephant” folio because of its large size, with each of its 435 pages measuring 39 by 27 inches. Publication took 11 years, from 1827 to 1838. LSU’s copy of the book was purchased with a grant from the Crown Zellerbach Foundation in 1964, and it has been shown in various venues through the years.
In 2007, it was determined that LSU’s copy could no longer be shown safely due to structural damage to the bindings caused by their large size and other problems with individual plates. In 2008, the Coypu Foundation made a donation of $99,000 to enable conservation of this work by Etherington Conservation Services. Over the course of more than a year, the work was painstakingly completed. The final volume returned to the library on Dec. 28, 2009. Thanks to the Coypu Foundation, one of LSU Libraries’ greatest treasures is now restored to fine condition and can again be displayed.
Audubon Day events are free and the public is welcome, but reservations are required and space is limited. Viewings of the folio volumes are scheduled to begin at 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 12 noon and 1 p.m. Only 40 people can be admitted for each showing. Parking is readily accessible in the Indian Mounds lot, directly behind Hill Memorial Library. In addition to the viewings, there will be additional events that include two exhibitions and more.
To request a reservation to view “Birds of America,” visit http://www.lib.lsu.edu/special/audubon or call 225-578-6544.