Winging It: A Brief History of Humanity’s Relationship with Birds

A glimpse into avian persistence.

"The large Lark," from Mark Catesby's The natural history of Carolina, Florida, and the Bahama islands, 1731-1743. VAULT Case oversize W764 .15

For centuries, humanity has had a complex relationship with birds, which have often been seen as pests or resources to be exploited, impediments to progress and threats to well-being. At the same time, Enlightenment thinkers made great efforts to study, depict, and classify birds as a means toward better understanding the cosmos. And birds have been a source of inspiration and meaning across eras and cultures. Our upcoming exhibition, Winging It: A Brief History of Humanity’s Relationship with Birds, shares examples from the Newberry's collection and how birds persist today oftentimes in spite of encroachment on their land, water, and air.


Bob Dolgan, Director of Communications, Newberry Library

About the Space

The Hanson Gallery is a small, intimate space. Exhibitions mounted there typically include 12-24 items, allowing visitors a glimpse of what the Newberry’s vast collections have to offer. Hanson exhibitions are often modest thematic presentations that draw from a range of the library's collections or interpretive explorations that are built around single items. Examples of past exhibitions include: Wheels and Indigenous Portraits Unbound. Click here to view a photo of the gallery.