Animals A-Z Exhibit Signs. Auckland War Memorial Museum, Auckland, New Zealand,1983.
For a slide show of these paintings, click on the first image and then use the arrows.
I moved to New Zealand when I was 25 years old and just married to a New Zealander. After living for several months on a small island off the coast of New Zealand's North Island, we moved to the city of Auckland where I was fortunate enough to get a job in the Art Department of one of the country's largest museums, the Auckland War Memorial Institute and Museum. The museum's imposing light-stone building had been built on the rim of an extinct volcano where it overlooked and dominated the Auckland Domain, Auckland's central park, itself defined by the sunken crater of the volcano. By chance and luck, we lived in an apartment on the far side of the Domain, so every day I walked to work across the park with its ponds, woods, trails, playing fields and 19th century glass Wintergardens.
Painting these alphabet signs was my first work for the museum. The museum developed the Animals A-Z Exhibit to show-case some of the vast number of taxidermied animals which had never been used for dioramas or displays but had been stored, many of them for decades, in the museum's nonpublic collection rooms. Most of these birds and animals had been collected in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by scientists, naturalists and explorers. The exhibit was designed alphabetically. Animals with names matching a letter of the alphabet were grouped together throughout the exhibit hall, where my signs identified each grouping.