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John James Audubon Center feathers its nest

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John James Audubon Center feathers its nest
Harri Leigh

The John James Audubon Center is preparing to open a new museum.

AUDUBON, Pa. (WLVT) - After a decade of planning, the John James Audubon Center in Montgomery County is preparing to open the latest “feather in their cap”: a $13 million, 18,000-square-foot museum celebrating birds.

“As you walk through the gallery, you’re going to learn about why birds are so amazing, their adaptations, their life cycles, migrations,” said John James Audubon Center Manager Carrie Barron.

The John James Audubon Center is based out of Mill Grove, the first American home of renowned artist and naturalist John James Audubon. Audubon most known for his 1839 book The Birds of America, which includes 435 hand-drawn prints of birds. Curators said the new museum, a joint project of the National Audubon Society and Montgomery County, seeks to bring John James Audubon’s artwork to life. It will include exhibits on John James Audubon and conservation, as well as galleries for local artwork. But the museum’s focus will, of course, be avian.

“Our main exhibit when you walk in is going to be all about birds,” said Page Plocic, Audubon Pennsylvania’s communications coordinator.

Huge murals of Audubon’s prints already decorate the walls while workers installed the WOW Birds! Gallery that will showcase the beauty and variety of birds along the Atlantic Flyway.

“Big, small,” Plocic said, describing the types of birds featured. “Fluffy, kind of funny looking.

The museum joins the Center’s existing educational facilities, including the historic Mill Grove house, barn and nature trails, as well as a bird sanctuary housing the seven “Resident Birds of Audubon” like Odin the Great Horned Owl.

The property stretches over 200 acres and includes we have 5 miles of hiking trails. As part of the museum project, the center is also opening an outdoor “Fledging Trail” installation that takes visitors on a bird’s journey from egg to flight. The Fledging Trail is designed to inspire the next generation of natural scientists and eco-enthusiasts, curators said.

“That’s our real goal, is just to have people exploring nature and getting excited about it,” Plocic said.

The museum will be open seven days a week from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission will be $14 for adults and $10 for children ages 6 to 17. All outdoor trails on Mill Grove grounds are open year-round from dawn to dusk.

The new exhibit will open to the public Wednesday, June 5. You can buy advance tickets here.