Jamestown – The Roger Tory Peterson Institute (RTPI) in Jamestown Thursday welcomed home 500 original artworks from the famed nature artist.
Nestled in the woods of Jamestown, Peterson's boyhood home, RTPI has continued Peterson's quiet work of educating and inspiring people to love and respect the natural world around them. It was perhaps gratitude for RTPI's dedication to his work that prompted Peterson to bequeath his prolific art collection to the institute.
The 500 piece collection, shipped in from his last home in Connecticut, spans Peterson's lifework from 1934 until his death in 1996. RTPI President Jim Berry says the institute will now be the only place owning and exhibiting Peterson's work.
"We're all very excited here about it, because we will have the largest collection of Peterson artwork anywhere in North America," Berry said. "It's really going to put the institute even more on the map, especially as a destination spot for people who are interested in nature, wildlife and bird art."
The collection includes four paintings from Peterson's original 1934 International bestseller, A Field Guide to the Birds. Peterson is credited with starting the popular environmentalism movement. Many of the artist's humble observations came from growing up in Jamestown's abundant natural surroundings. And Berry says that's a legacy Jamestown residents are eager to welcome home.
"This is part of Jamestown's cultural heritage and people here have amount of pride for being residents of Roger Tory Peterson's home town. And this material is going to be wonderful to have here. People here are very proud of the institute, but they will feel even more special now I think," he said.
The institute will complete a full inventory, as soon as possible, and then begin exhibiting the works on a rotating basis. But Berry says an expansion of the museum may eventually be needed to handle the extensive, prized new collection.