J.K. Lilly, Jr.’s copy of the double elephant folio of John James Audubon’s Birds of America (1827-1838) is one of the most popular attractions at the Lilly Library today. Turning one page every week, it would take almost eight and a half years for us to feature all 435 beautiful hand-colored plates in the four volumes… and that’s just what we plan to do.
Many visitors have enjoyed the birds over the years, and since we launched our Twitter account @IULillyLibrary last year, many fans all over the world have enjoyed our “Flipping the Bird” feature. But we’ve been pecking around the plates sporadically, featuring a big bird here and a small bird there. We showed off the spectacular Pink Flamingo in honor of John Waters’ visit to campus and even discovered a “lost” plate for some cheeky April Fool’s Day fun.
But today, on what would be John James Audubon’s 231st birthday, we’ve turned back to Volume 1, Plate I—the Wild Turkey. And from now on, we’ll turn the page once a week in order until we see every duck, owl, songbird, and raptor. So whether you stop by our gallery every week or visit us virtually on Twitter, join us for the next eight years as we flip the bird and celebrate one of our favorite treasures!
Rebecca Baumann, Education & Outreach Librarian