past exhibitions

From Prairie to Field: Photographs by Terry Evans

September 23 - November 10, 2007

Terry Evans has spent over twenty years photographing the prairie from her home base in Kansas. Considering herself an explorer, Evans has produced a variety of images capturing farmlands, wetland, meadows, and forests of America’s heartland. When she moved to the urban setting of Chicago, she turned to The Field Museum’s scientific collection of prairie specimens to continue her exploration and documentation of the prairies.

Evans has created a series of photographs of birds, plants, fish, reptiles, mammals and insects from collections dating back over 150 years. The exhibition includes forty-two images from this series including Coneflower (1899) and two photographs titled Trumpeter Swan (1899 and 1916) from North Dakota.

Clearly preserved specimens, the subjects of her photographs carry a mournful tone as the viewers are introduced to past prairie life, a life that has changed vastly over the years. In a world where many people are deprived of prairie life, and especially prairie life dated over a hundred years ago, this show serves as an educational tool for learning about prairie specimen, like the possibly extinct ivory-billed woodpeckers and the single trumpeter swan, a bird that has only narrowly escaped extinction. This exhibition, a record of both natural and manmade beauty exhumed from the past, asks the viewers to think about why people and institutions collect specimens and what we hope to learn from them.


Red-tailed Hawks, Wisconsin, 1987, Nebraska, 1926
Buteo jamaicensis

Iris print, 2001
Collection of The Field Museum of Natural History

I love the fact that the label on this specimen included
the stomach contents. I also like this specimen because
it was the only one that I saw in the drawers that had
its wing outstretched. 
             —Terry Evans