New exhibition at Cincinnati Museum Center highlights work of the first naturalist

The Curious Mister Catesby opens Apr 19 with lecture and panel discussion

CINCINNATI – Cincinnati Museum Center is hosting an exhibition featuring the works of Mark Catesby, North America’s first naturalist. In conjunction with the Lloyd Library, Cincinnati Museum Center will open The Curious Mister Catesby: A “Truly Ingenious” Naturalist Explores New Worlds with a lecture and panel discussion at 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 19.

The Curious Mister CatesbyThe Curious Mister Catesby explores the life and works of Mark Catesby, a British naturalist who crossed the Atlantic en route to Virginia in 1712. After a 37 year tour through what were then the southern British American colonies and Bahama Islands as well as Spanish Florida, Catesby completed his monumental book Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands. The book featured hand-colored pictures of animals amidst the plants and foliage in which they lived. It remained in print for nearly a century and was described by President Thomas Jefferson as “the only complete, reliable, illustrated natural history of America.” Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands was used by Lewis and Clark on their expedition to the Pacific and inspired the work of John James Audubon.

The exhibition will feature two original volumes of Catesby’s Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands on loan from the Lloyd Library as well as a copy of Catesby’s Hortus Brittano-Americanus from the collections of Cincinnati Museum Center. The pages of Catesby’s work will take tangible form as specimens of the ivory-billed woodpecker, Carolina parakeet and more from Museum Center’s collections accompany the rare books. Examples of his superb artistry will also be on display.

The opening of The Curious Mister Catesby will be preceded by a free lecture and panel discussion on the life and work of Catesby as well as his impact on his successors at 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 19.

Dr. Charles Nelson, author of The Curious Mister Catesby: A “Truly Ingenious” Naturalist Explores the New World and Reference Book of the Year Award Winner
Leslie Overstreet, Curator of Natural History Rare Books at the Smithsonian Libraries’ Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Library of Natural History

David Elliott, Executive Director of the Catesby Commemorative Trust and Executive Producer of The Curious Mister Catesby documentary
Professor W. Hardy Eshbaugh, Professor Emeritus of Botany at Miami University

Guests can also enjoy brunch with the panelists and a private tour of the exhibition before the lecture. Tickets for the brunch and private tour are $50 and can purchased by calling (513) 345-2645.

The Curious Mister Catesby exhibition will be open from April 19 through May 25 in the Museum of Natural History & Science’s North Gallery at Cincinnati Museum Center. For more information on the exhibition and lecture, visit