Beatrix Potter: Drawn to Nature at the Morgan Celebrates Beloved Children’s Author

Beatrix Potter: Drawn to Nature at the Morgan Celebrates Beloved Children’s Author
Photo by Kaitlyn Riggio

Beatrix Potter: Drawn to Nature at the Morgan Celebrates Beloved Children’s Author

Mr. Jeremy Fisher adorns the top of the doorway leading into the Morgan Library and Museum’s Beatrix Potter: Drawn to Nature exhibition.

He’s not only one of Potter’s better known characters: he’s also exhibit curator Philip Palmer’s favorite. 

Palmer says his first glimpse of Mr. Jeremy Fisher at the entrance to the exhibit was “emotional.” 

It was like “seeing an old friend again,” Palmer says. 

And entering the exhibit will surely evoke similar feelings from visitors. Beatrix Potter, best known for books like The Tale of Peter Rabbit, is one of the most beloved children’s authors of the twentieth century. 

Beatrix Potter: Drawn to Nature at the Morgan Celebrates Beloved Children’s Author
Mr. Jeremy Fisher above the entrance to Beatrix Potter: Drawn to Nature. Photo by Kaitlyn Riggio

Through her artworks, books, manuscripts and artifacts, the exhibition at the Morgan highlights Potter’s unique relationship with the natural world and showcases how her blend of scientific observation and imaginative storytelling resulted in some of the world’s most popular children’s books. 

Created by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the exhibition is broken into different sections, each featuring a part of Potter’s life and how they helped her become a storyteller. 

Beginning in “Town and Country,” visitors will get an idea of the places, spaces and influences that defined Potter’s childhood, starting with her life in South Kensington, London. 

With an emphasis on her family life and development as an artist, this exhibition contains things like early sketchbooks, objects from her home, artwork by her family and a page from an encrypted diary that Potter kept from her adolescence into her 30s. 

“Under the Microscope,” the exhibition’s second section, looks at Potter’s interest in natural sciences. 

It showcases Potter’s work as an amateur mycologist through displays of her intricate and scientifically impressive drawings of fungi. 

Other areas of this section look into Potter’s childhood summers in Scotland and northwest England’s Lake District, where she collected fossils, fungi and other natural specimens.

These travels with her family shaped Potter’s artistic process, which can be seen in her early sketches and picture letters depicting natural scenery. 

“A Natural Storyteller” shows Potter’s almost accidental journey to becoming a best-selling author, focusing on Potter’s beloved children’s books and the stories behind them. 

See preliminary sketches of Peter Rabbit, Potter’s paintings of the real-life places that inspired Mr. McGregor’s garden in The Tale of Benjamin Bunny, tiny letters she wrote in the voices of her characters and sent to children and more. 

The exhibition’s final section, “Living Nature,” follows Potter into her later life in the Lake District in northwest England.

Through letters, photographs and paintings, this section shows how Potter transitioned away from working as an illustrator and writer and into working in farming and conservation.

The show ends with a look at the four thousand acres Potter bequeathed to the UK’s National Trust, highlighting her extraordinary legacy that lives on not only through her books but through her efforts towards preserving natural spaces. 

Palmer says Beatrix Potter: Drawn to Nature is a natural fit into the Morgan’s programming line up. 

“The Morgan has always been known for children’s literature,” Palmer says. “So Beatrix Potter falls into that perfectly.” 

Beatrix Potter: Drawn to Nature at the Morgan Celebrates Beloved Children’s Author
One of the various reading nooks within Beatrix Potter: Drawn to Nature. Photo by Kaitlyn Riggio

Families will feel right at home when visiting. The exhibition was created with families and young readers in mind, Palmer says. Visitors will find several reading nooks and reading spaces throughout the gallery, where they can relax and enjoy reading Potter’s books. 

For families looking to take their exhibition experience to the next level, keep an eye out for upcoming Family Programs related to the exhibition at the Morgan.

These include Family First Sundays, where families can tour the exhibition and enjoy a picture book story time, and the Spring Family Fair, which will include the reopening of the Morgan Garden and hands-on activities related to the exhibition. 

Beatrix Potter: Drawn to Nature at the Morgan Celebrates Beloved Children’s Author
Photo by Kaitlyn Riggio

Palmer says he hopes that families who visit the exhibition leave with a new appreciation for Potter and her contributions. 

“We do hope that children and families maybe discover Beatrix Potter for the first time, or rediscover their interest in Potter,” Palmer says. 

Beatrix Potter: Drawn to Nature will be on view at the Morgan Library and Museum now through June 9. 

Psst… The NYBG’s Orchid Show: Florals in Fashion is bringing it to the runway. 

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