The book and the kiosk
Publication Date: 30 July 2013
It has been pointed out that if you ever see a copy of Audubon's
Birds of America lying round a junk shop, you should consider
It should stand out being a double elephant folio, an enormous
100cm x 67cm allowing life-size engravings of its subjects. Even by
today's standards, the vividness of its illustrations is
extraordinary but when it was being released in the 1830s it was
Even so it may be hard to track down. All but 13 of the 120
remaining copies are held in museums, libraries and universities
around the world. The University of Michigan has a copy, the
University of Pittsburgh has a copy, Sheikh Saud Al-Thani
of Qatar has a copy, having paid $8.8 million for it at
Christie's in 2000.
Liverpool Central Library also has a copy.
But having got a copy how should they present this astounding
book? An important question as the wonderfully refurbished Central
Library comes with a £55 million price tag and the need to attract
1 million visitors a year. To this end it is as much tourist
attraction as library, and Birds of America is its biggest
As the artefact itself is kept in a glass climate controlled
case, with a new page being unveiled each Monday morning only the
truly dedicated are likely to get to view the whole thing. True you
could view it at http://www.lib.umich.edu/pictureit/bin/Volume_1.1/main.html
but at the loss of any sense of scale and occasion.
How then have Liverpool City Council enabled residents and
tourists alike to view the full folio, at full size, and in the
dramatic setting of the beautifully restored Oak Room?
That will be the Ev5.