Mystic Aquarium to get contents of Roger Tory Peterson's studio

Mystic - The family of celebrated ornithologist and artist Roger Tory Peterson has donated the contents of his Old Lyme studio to Mystic Aquarium, which plans to eventually display them in a recreation of the studio.

Peter Glankoff, the aquarium's senior vice president of marketing and public affairs, said plans are to have the studio become part of the aquarium's African penguin exhibit, which is named after Peterson. He said the project is several years off and will be part of the renovation of the Roger Tory Peterson Penguin Exhibit.

Glankoff said the items from Peterson's studio include his drafting table, pencils, erasers, brushes and Exacto knives along with drawer of drawings and sketches. There are also autographed books and stacks of magazines in which his works appeared.

"They range from the mundane to the precious and valuable," he said about the items. "This was all stuff that was inside his actual working environment."

In addition, he said the aquarium has access to digital files of all Peterson's work.

The aquarium has placed the items in storage until it is ready to display them. But there is so much material, Glankoff said the aquarium will only be able to display a fraction of it at one time.

Glankoff said the upgrade to the exhibit is in the aquarium's five-year improvement plan. Penguins were Peterson's favorite bird.

Peterson moved in 1952 to Old Lyme, and lived there until his death at age 88 in 1996. The Great Island marshes in town were renamed the Roger Tory Peterson Natural Area in 2002.

Author of the famed "Field Guides" series, Peterson is credited with creating volumes that enabled avid birders and other wildlife enthusiasts to easily identify flora and fauna.

On Saturday, his family is slated to auction off hundreds of his original paintings, photographs and drawings in New York City.

The auction includes about 250 original paintings created for his "Field Guide to Eastern Birds," and well as the companion guides to western birds, European and Mexican birds and wildflowers.

It will also include his paintings of penguins along with book covers, pencil-and-ink drawings and about 200 of his photographs, as well as his binoculars, cameras and his very first oil painting, of two American widgeons.

Thirty-five Audubon prints also in the collection will also be offered for sale.

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