Birding at the RISD Museum

You Can See Birds Everywhere You Go, You Just have to Look

After attending the Audubon Society of Rhode Island’s Raptor Weekend, we headed to the RISD Museum in Providence and ended up doing more birdwatching.

If you think about it, you can see birds everywhere you go.

You just have to look.

Birds are Iconic

Birds are some of the most prominent brand logos of all time.

Think NBC, Twitter,  Penguin Books, and Nestle, just to name a few.
Birds are some of the most prominent brand logos of all time

Whether it’s art, architecture, engineering, literature, film or fashion, birds inspire creative minds to reach for the sky.

RISD Museum is Filled with Birds

So we combined two of our favorite things: birds and art.

At first, we were casually enjoying the museum’s artifacts, and it quickly was becoming ‘find the birds in this room.’

Next thing we know, we were birding in the museum.

We didn’t keep an official tally for the day, but the number was in the hundreds.

Here are some of our favorite birds of the day.

Portrait of a Lady of the Hampden Family, 1610

The oil on canvas depicts an aristocratic young woman posed before an enclosed garden as a traditional indication of virginity.

She has a lavishly embroidered gown with a bird at the bottom.

Portrait of a Lady of the Hampden Family, 1610
Portrait of a Lady of the Hampden Family, 1610

Large Leaf Verdure Tapestry with Animals and Birds, 1520

This beautiful wool and silk interlocking tapestry weave was the reason for setting off a security alarm.

Dan was trying to get his phone closer for taking a photo, and it momentarily was extending beyond the laser security beam.

Large Leaf Verdure Tapestry with Animals and Birds, 1520
Large Leaf Verdure Tapestry with Animals and Birds, 1520

Luckily the security guard laughed it off and took the time to enjoy spotting the birds in the tapestry with us.

The guard remarked that she looks at the tapestry every day and never noticed the birds.

So we’re excited for introducing her to a new perspective of looking at this amazing piece of artwork.

The tapestry has a heron, pheasant, winged mythical creatures, and other birds worked in.

It’s a beautiful, enchanting piece up close and you can’t help staring at it for a long time to spot all the birds.

Owl Beaker, 1556

This beaker’s wondrous design features flappable wings with a detachable head serving as both a cap and cup.

Owl Beaker, 1556
Owl Beaker, 1556
Owl Beaker, 1556
Owl Beaker, 1556

The owl stands on delicate legs and is stabilized by its tail.

European nobles loved packing their cabinets of curiosities with unusual objects, and this was one of our favorites of the day.

This porcelain charger features birds, branches, and flowers in a woodblock print.

Porcelain Charger, 1745

This porcelain charger features birds, branches, and flowers in a woodblock print.

Porcelain Charger, 1745
Porcelain Charger, 1745.

Bronze Bird, 700 BCE

Bronze Bird, 700 BCE
Bronze Bird, 700 BCE

This bronze bird is an exciting catch and so easy to overlook in the collection.

It’s Greek and from central or northern Greece during the Late Geometric period.

Terracotta Wine Jug, 720 BCE

There’s just something about this terracotta wine jug that caught our eye.

The combination of horses, a goat, two birds, and flowers.

It’s probably the hieroglyph drawings that remind me of the stick figure animals I love to draw.

Terracotta Wine Jug, 720 BCE
Terracotta Wine Jug, 720 BCE

Lidded Box, 760 BCE

Horses and birds appear to be a favored combination of the Greeks.

This lidded terracotta box has two horses adorning the top with great egrets or herons etchings on the side.

Lidded Box, 760 BCE
Lidded Box, 760 BCE

Winged Isis Pectoral, 1075-712 BC

The Egyptian winged goddess Isis is always a show-stopper.

Isis is a fierce winged goddess and the Queen of Heaven.

But if that isn’t fantastic enough, she’s the mother of Horus, the god of the sky.

Winged Isis Pectoral, 1075-712 BC
Winged Isis Pectoral, 1075-712 BC

Horus is a God in the Form of a Falcon

His right eye was the sun or morning star, representing power and quintessence, and his left eye was the moon or evening star, representing healing.

The amulet depicting Isis was sewn into the linen bandages of a mummy.

The goddesses’ wings spread across the mummy’s chest, embracing and protecting the deceased in the afterlife.

It’s a fascinating piece to see up close, or rather as close as you can get without setting off alarms.

Coffin For An Ibis, 664-30 BCE

Coffin For An Ibis, 664-30 BCE
Coffin For An Ibis, 664-30 BCE

The ibis, a long-billed wading bird, is associated with Thoth, the god of writing, and divine knowledge.

As sacred animals, ibises were mummified and interred in ibis-shaped coffins.

The coffin’s body is carved of wood, and covered with linen, gesso, and gilding.

If you’re wondering what’s inside the coffin, e-rays reveal there’s nothing inside.

During this period, “false” mummies attest to the demand for animal-cult paraphernalia.

We loved his piece, and it was among our favorite bird sightings of the day.

Coffin Containing the Mummy of Nesmin, 250 BCE

Coffin Containing the Mummy of Nesmin, 250 BCE
Coffin Containing the Mummy of Nesmin, 250 BCE

Nesmin lived in Egypt nearly 2,300 years ago and was a priest of the fertility god Min and the moon and healing god Khonsu.

There are several birds depicted on the coffin as ornate decorations and as hieroglyphs.

It was thrilling to be so close to this coffin and see the hieroglyphs up close.

Funeral Stela of Heni, 2150-2134 BCE

Funeral Stela of Heni, 2150-2134 BCE
Funeral Stela of Heni, 2150-2134 BCE

This limestone funeral stela ensured that Heni, a local high official, would never experience hunger or thrust in the afterlife.

The hieroglyphs depict several birds, and our favorite was the Owl-like figure.

Roman Sarcophagus with Carved Panel of Satyrs and Maenads, 3rd Century CE

If you love eagles and other fierce birds of prey, then you’ll like this sarcophagus.

It’s a fantastic piece with three panels depicting the followers of the winged Dionysus.

Carved Panel of Satyrs and Maenads, 3rd Century CE
Carved Panel of Satyrs and Maenads, 3rd Century CE

The end panels depict seated griffins, mythological creatures with the body of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle.

This sarcophagus was our favorite bird sighting of the day.

Seeing Birds at RISD Museum

It was thrilling to see so many fantastic birds at the RISD Museum.

And on rainy or snowy days when you can’t get outside and see birds in the wild, museums are great places to satisfy your itch to see birds, with a dash of history, worked in.

RISD Museum
RISD Museum

Getting to the RISD Museum

If you’re ever in Providence, Rhode Island, I highly recommend checking out the RISD Museum.

Plan to spend 2+ hours to enjoy the sights.

And the best part, Sundays admission is free.

RISD Museum is located at 20 N Main Street, Providence, RI 02903.

Be sure to tell us in the comments your favorite indoor place to see birds because we’re always up for a fun road trip.

 

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