Photos and text by Amy Davis
A thought-provoking exhibition, “Birdland and the Anthropocene,” scrutinizes birds even more seriously than devoted Ravens and Orioles fans do on game day. The art, which fills four floors of the Peale Center, ponders ornithology from numerous perspectives, but the overriding theme is extinction. For declining bird populations there is no consolation that next season will be better.
Anthropocene refers to the current geological period, in which the impact of humans on our planet is pervasive. Birds are disappearing due to loss of habitat, pesticides, invasive species, building collisions, commercial demand for wild birds, and even free-roaming cats. Baltimore artist and bird conservation advocate Lynne Parks has curated the show, which brings together over thirty artists and performers to look at the different ways we are failing birds, an essential and beautiful part of our ecosystem.
For this ornithological examination, the former Peale Museum on Holliday Street is the perfect habitat. The 1814 building has deteriorated from years of neglect, and like our birds, is a living dinosaur on life support. Now called the Peale Center for Baltimore History and Architecture, the museum started by Rembrandt Peale is undergoing major renovations. Plans call for a range of cultural activities and innovative approaches to history education and artistic expression. The Peale, which was dedicated to art and natural history, has come full circle with this ambitious show.
Artist talks will take place at 2 p.m. on Saturday, October 21, and a program of early bird recordings will be presented at noon on Sunday, October 22. Gallery hours are Thursday and Friday, 6 to 9 p.m., Saturdays, 12 to 6 p.m., and Sunday, 12 to 4 p.m. A closing costume party begins at 7 p.m. on October 28, before the final day of the show on October 29, 2017.