Passenger Pigeon Lands a Permanent Perch

by Liz O'Brien

The Smithsonian Libraries and Smithsonian Gardens presented The Lost Bird Project exhibition from March 2014 – May 2015. Housed in the Smithsonian’s gardens, it featured large-scale bronze sculpture memorials of five extinct North American birds: the Carolina parakeet, the Labrador duck, the passenger pigeon, the great auk, and the heath hen. The Lost Bird Project dedicated one bird, the passenger pigeon, to remain permanently with the Smithsonian – in front of the National Museum of Natural History – close to Martha, the last passenger pigeon, who resides in the museum.

“To have the passenger pigeon memorial permanently placed at the Smithsonian is truly a dream come true for all of us at The Lost Bird Project,” said Todd McGrain, author, sculptor, and creative director of The Lost Bird Project. “The passenger pigeon was once a symbol of great abundance. It is now a lost species, standing as an icon for the fragility of our natural heritage. Visitors to the Smithsonian museums bring with them a desire to investigate, learn, and experience the many and varied facets of our national identity. We are thrilled that the passenger pigeon memorial is now a part of the wealth of resources offered by this wonderful institution.”


Lost Bird Passenger Pigeon with Susan

Jonathan Kavalier (Supervisory Horticulturalist, SI Gardens), artist Todd McGrain of The Lost Bird Project, and Susan Frampton with the passenger pigeon memorial sculpture in the Urban Habitat Garden.


Susan Frampton, former  program coordinator, worked with Smithsonian Gardens staff to bring The Lost Bird Project exhibition to the Smithsonian, in tandem with our exhibition, Once There Were Billions: Vanished Birds of North America (June 2014 – October 2015). She is honored with a plaque in front of the passenger pigeon memorial, “for her unwavering dedication to excellence and her many inspirational contributions to Smithsonian Libraries.”







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