International Crane Foundation and Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum present “The Art of Saving Cranes” Exhibition

Cranes of the World by David Rankin
‘Cranes of the World’ by David Rankin

Jodi Legge, Director of External Affairs, 608-356-9462, ext. 120

Oct. 17, 2023 (Chicago) – Experience the beauty of cranes in art at a special exhibition, “The Art of Saving Cranes: 50 Years of Conservation at the International Crane Foundation,” on view at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in Chicago, Ill. beginning Oct. 28 through March 3, 2024.

The special exhibition marks the first time the International Crane Foundation has highlighted part of its art collection outside the Foundation’s Baraboo, Wis., headquarters. The display includes 12 paintings, prints and other mediums donated or created over the past 50 years. Works on display illustrate the fragility and resilience of the world’s 15 species of cranes and people coming together to protect cranes and their habitats, with works by artists Victor Bakhtin (Soviet Union) and David Rankin (Ohio).

Founded 50 years ago by ornithologists George Archibald, Ph.D., and Ron Sauey, Ph.D., the International Crane Foundation works with staff and partners across the globe to protect cranes. The work includes collaborating with researchers, scientists and the people and communities to provide innovative programs that protect and save ecosystems, watersheds, and crane flyways, which are the pathways cranes migrate each year. Sandhill and Whooping cranes, North America’s only species of cranes, are beginning their migration south to warmer climates making it possible to see and hear cranes flying over the Chicago region the next several weeks.

In addition to Sandhill and Whooping cranes, the Foundation supports species of crane populations throughout Asia and Africa and in Europe and Australia.

Opening reception for the art of savingcranes exhbit
Plan your visit to see the ‘Art of Saving Cranes’ here. Jill Allread

Exhibition works that help tell the story of the International Crane Foundation and its mission to save cranes will include:

Whooping Cranes in Wisconsin

Artist: Victor Bakhtin, born in the Soviet Union (1951-2016)   

Victor Bakhtin created moving stories of nature through his art, including many pieces for the International Crane Foundation. Archibald met Bakhtin while working to protect cranes in the former Soviet Union, and he helped him emigrate to the United States, where his paintings of cranes furthered their mutual mission. Today, about 70 Whooping Cranes nest on wetlands in Wisconsin and winter mainly in southern Indiana and northern Alabama.

Cranes of the World

Artist: David Rankin, Ohio (b. 1945)

The International Crane Foundation uses this piece to illustrate the world’s cranes. Cranes are among the oldest living birds, dating back millions of years. Today, cranes are among the most endangered families of birds, with 10 of the 15 species threatened by extinction. David Rankin uses his gift for watercolor to inspire appreciation of nature and further conservation.

Sandhill Cranes
Artist: Terrill Knaack, Wisconsin (b. 1950)

Terrill Knaack is a native of Wisconsin’s Horicon Marsh area, where Sandhill Cranes reside. Sandhill Cranes are a crane success story. In the early to mid-1900s, Sandhill Cranes were in danger of going extinct. Today, though still threatened by the loss of wetlands and power line collisions, Sandhill Cranes have made an inspiring comeback. They now number in the hundreds of thousands and are found coast to coast.

Symbolic Petition of Chippewa Chiefs, 1849
Artist: Unknown

A version of this print was carried to Washington, D.C., in 1849, when the Ojibwe (Chippewa) tribe petitioned the United States to adjust the boundaries of the 1842 Treaty of LaPointe. The image represents Ojibwe clans with a crane leading the group. The original is at the Wisconsin Historical Society.

The “Art of Saving Cranes” exhibit is included with museum admission and will be on display during normal museum hours.

The International Crane Foundation (ICF) works worldwide to conserve cranes and the ecosystems, watersheds, and flyways on which they depend. We provide knowledge, leadership, and inspiration to engage people in resolving threats to cranes and their diverse landscapes. From its 300-acre headquarters in Baraboo, Wisconsin, the ICF reach extends across the globe, with offices and staff in China, Uganda, Kenya, Zambia, and South Africa, as well as Texas. It works through strong partnerships with local organizations, governments, universities, businesses, and others in these regions. More than 125 ICF staff and partners work with a network of hundreds of specialists in 50 countries on five continents.

The Foundation is committed to a future where all 15 of the world’s crane species are secure. Through the charisma of cranes, ICF envisions a future where people work together for wild crane populations and the landscapes they depend on – and by doing so, find new pathways to sustain our water, land, and livelihoods. Visit savingcranes.org for more information and to support the work of ICF.

For over 165 years, The Chicago Academy of Sciences and its Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum have served a unique role in the city of Chicago connecting people of all ages to nature and science through immersive exhibits, fun family events, important conservation research and in-depth education programs, inspiring the wonder in all of us. Serving over 300,000 visitors per year, it was formed to create a positive relationship between people and nature through collaborations, education, research and collections, exhibitions, and public forums to grow the Chicago region’s urban connection to the world of nature and science. Visit naturemuseum.org for more information.