By Betsy Natter
Join in the celebration as the John James Audubon Center at Mill Grove in Audubon reopens the site’s historic house to visitors on April 7th following a two-and-a-half-year closure for renovations. The house was once the home of John James Audubon, the painter, ornithologist and naturalist who is remembered for his pioneering and innovative work to illustrate the birds and other wildlife of North America, capturing them in their natural habitat.
As a special gift to the community, admission to the facility is free during the initial grand re-opening, from April 8 through April 23. Visitors can also walk the trails and visit a secondary art show in the neighboring barn. “Drawn from Nature,” the annual juried show held at the center, will run from April 7 – 23. Hours are Tues. through Sat. from 10 am to 4 pm and Sun. 1 to 4 pm. All the work is inspired by nature and features artists from around the region. Work will be available for purchase.
The newly renovated main house features a modernized museum approach to interpreting the life and work of Audubon who lived in the home, later named Mill Grove, from 1803 to 1806. Visitors can explore new exhibits about the history of the property, a library, gift shop and changing gallery exhibits featuring the work of local artists. The building’s upstairs gallery currently displays an exhibit entitled, “A Brush with Nature,” showcasing the work of Susannah Hart Thomer and Michael Adams as well as works by Audubon himself.
April 8 will also be the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of a new Visitor’s Center at the site. The new facility is a joint project between the Audubon Center, the National Audubon Society and Montgomery County. It will feature technologically enhanced exhibits that highlight Audubon’s conservational contributions as well as provide art collection management facilities. Educational programming will continue to be a primary focus of the center.
Special weekend programs will also be held throughout April to add to the festivities. Check out the list below and enjoy the nature-inspired art of the many presenters.
Sat, April 8: Bruce Poulterer – a local watercolor artist will be painting near the barn from 11am to 3 pm. Watch him work and learn about his techniques. Bruce’s work reflects his love of historic structures.
Sat., April 8: Enjoy the art of flight as Margaret Young, a 16-year-old Apprentice Falconer will be demonstrating her raptor training techniques at the center from 11 am to 1 pm. Margaret is the youngest falconer in Pennsylvania. (Rain date is April 15)
Sun. April 9: Doug Wechsler, a children’s book author and photographer will read his latest book, “The Hidden Life of a Toad” in the barn beginning at 1 pm. Copies will be available for purchase and signing.
Sat. April 15: Learn all about Owls from one of the center’s educators and participate in an owl drawing activity from 10 – 11am in the barn. From 11 am to 3 pm, watch artist Annie Stack paint outdoors near the barn.
Sun. April 16: Local artist Patrice DeVirgilis will be painting on site from 11 am to 3 pm and answer questions about her work. Pat has exhibited her work all along the east coast and teaches workshops and classes for aspiring artists.
Sat. April 22: Madeleine Kelly will be painting near the barn from 11 am to 3 pm. Madeleine is an artist, educator and exhibition judge with a studio in Southeastern PA.