New exhibition examines birds and their influence on our culture


The New Jersey State Museum  in Trenton is pleased to announce “Fine Feathered Friends: Birds as Mainstay and Muse,” a new exhibition opening on Jan. 4.

The exhibition on the first Saturday of January brings the fun of birdwatching indoors through nearly 200 rarely-seen artifacts and specimens exploring birds as an ecological mainstay and their role as a design-inspiring force, or muse, for New Jersey artisans.

The exhibition was made possible in part by support from the New Jersey State Museum Foundation through the Lucille M. Paris Fund. It will be on view in the Riverside Gallery on the Museum’s second floor through Sept. 13.

According to exhibit curator Nicholas Ciotola, “These cultural and scientific artifacts provide a unique window into the wild, wonderful world of birds, illustrating how our fine feathered friends have historically influenced and inspired New Jersey decorative art forms.”

Dana Ehret, exhibit co-curator, states: “By displaying extinct species like Passenger Pigeons and a Carolina Parakeet, the exhibit also hopes to inspire an appreciation of birds and their importance in our world and the need for continued wildlife preservation in the future.”

Exhibition highlights include the porcelain bird sculptures of Trenton ceramist Edward Marshall Boehm, hand-carved duck and shorebird decoys from the coastal and Delaware River carving traditions, and needlework samplers featuring birds that were embroidered by New Jersey schoolgirls.

These historical collections are exhibited side by side with scientific study skins and taxidermy mounts from the museum’s vast ornithological collections. Original hand-colored etchings by artist/naturalist John James Audubon and an exploration of the Audubon movement in New Jersey are also included.

A “Science of Birds” section examines bird intelligence, migration and plumage, as well as the amazing diversity that exists among the nearly ten thousand different species of birds worldwide. Visitors will also learn how the Eastern Goldfinch (now called the American Goldfinch) became New Jersey’s State Bird and can design their own take-home button to show their love of birds.

The New Jersey State Museum is open from 9:00 a.m. to 4:45 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday; closed on Mondays and State holidays.

The Auditorium Galleries are open Tuesday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; closed on weekends, Mondays and State holidays.

General admission is free; donations to the New Jersey State Museum Foundation, a non-government 501(c)3 organization which supports the Museum, gratefully accepted. For additional information, visit

About the New Jersey State Museum
Located at 205 West State St., Trenton, the New Jersey State Museum encompasses three buildings including a state-of-the-art planetarium, and holds over 2 million artifacts in its collections in Archaeology/Ethnography, Cultural History, Fine Art and Natural History.

As a center of cultural, educational and scientific engagement, the museum inspires innovation and lifelong learning through collections, exhibitions, programs and research in science, history and art.

Established in 1895, the New Jersey State Museum fosters state pride, serves as a cultivator of tomorrow’s leaders, and engages visitors of all ages and diverse backgrounds in an exploration of New Jersey’s cultural and natural history presented within a global context.