NORFOLK Museums Service
Norwich Castle

Beat the queues! Book your advance tickets for The Wonder of Birds

The Wonder of Birds
Norwich Castle
24 May - 14 September 2014

Tickets for our fantastic summer exhibition The Wonder of Birds are on sale now! Book in advance to bypass the queues and claim £1.50 off your copy of the beautiful publication which accompanies the show.

Click here to book or phone 01603 598626.

The exhibition (Saturday 24 May – Sunday 14 September 2014) will combine art and natural history to explore the cultural impact of birds on humanity.  

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Skeleton of a Great Hornbill [from 'The Unfeathered Bird']

© Katrina van Grouw

Adult male Paradise Parrot, Psephotus pulcherrimus. Morton Bay, Queensland, Australia (1851)

Taxidermist: Frederick Strange (1826-1854)

© Norfolk Museums Service

Unknown taxidermist (20th century). Pied Avocet, Recurvirostra avosetta. Taxidermy specimen, 39 x 16 x 32 cm, Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery/Norfolk Museums Service

© Norfolk Museums Service

The Wonder of Birds

Saturday 24 May to Sunday 14 September 2014

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‘The Wonder of Birds' will explore the cultural impact of birds upon mankind. Eliciting a wide range of emotions from awe to fear, from pleasure to cruelty – birds have intrigued humanity since the earliest of times. The exhibition will span the centuries, informed by local and national collections, to include the arts, natural history, archaeology, fashion and social history. Works by major artists and illustrators, historical and contemporary, will be included and the exhibition will examine local, national and international issues.

'The Wonder of Birds' comprises six sections, each highlighting a different aspect of birds, their meanings and our relationships with them. It begins by introducing the visitor to the breadth of this fascinating subject: what is a bird; what do they mean to us; how have we studied, portrayed, preserved, endangered and used them?

Section 2, 'Predators and Prey', will explore a variety of species of game bird as well as birds of prey, while Section 3, 'Birds & Landscape', primarily examines birds in East Anglia, focusing on wildfowl and wetland birds. Birds can be closely associated with our ideas of place and as such may be strongly connected with local identities. Arguably this is especially true in this region, which boasts a wealth of habitats of international importance housing unique groups of species.

As a contrast to their strong associations with the land, birds are equally closely linked with the sea, travel, distance and migration. Some birds travel phenomenal distances annually and Section 4, 'Migrants and Ocean Travellers', will examine the seasonal behaviour which may take migrating birds from Norfolk to the Arctic, Africa or South America.

Section 5 is titled 'Introducing the Exotic'. Exotic birds have always been coveted for their brilliant plumage, combined with their sheer rarity value, both as high status pets and for their feathers. This section will also focus on the use of feathers in all kinds for clothing and fashion accessories – a trend which peaked in the western world in the 19th century. The resulting deaths of thousands of birds sparked off the awareness of extinction which led to the founding of the RSPB.

'The Realms of the Spirit', the final section, will illustrate how songbirds and their relatives have symbolised the immortal soul, been seen as heralds of the seasons, messengers from heaven, or magical beings moving between the worlds.

The watercolour gallery is amazing, the colours are so fresh. For someone living in Manchester I did not realise what an extensive collection of pictures you have.

Leaflets & files to print

Download PDFs The Wonder of Birds