To The Reader's Forum:
Local and national news sources have reported recently on an auction of artworks by famed naturalist, illustrator and author Roger Tory Peterson scheduled for September 8, 2012, at the Arader Gallery in New York City. This auction is presented by the Guernsey's Auction House and will comprise artwork owned by Dr. Peterson's step-daughters. The Roger Tory Peterson Estate does not own these works.
The Board of Trustees and president of the Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History (RTPI) also wish to state clearly that this auction has no connection to the mission or the priceless collection of Dr. Peterson's works in our award-winning facility in Jamestown, N.Y. We do not own the works to be auctioned, nor will we break up or sell the collection we possess. We will not benefit directly in any way from this auction, and we are not able financially to bid on any of the work.
We are institutional stewards of the life work and legacy of Roger Tory Peterson. We currently hold in perpetuity approximately 65 percent of Dr. Peterson's illustrations and paintings, as well as his photographs, slides and films. His correspondence and his priceless collection of bird skins are in our climate-controlled state-of-the-art archives, along with many of his cameras, optical equipment and other artifacts of his long career. We welcome the local and traveling public to our exhibits and build curricula around the exhibits of Dr. Peterson's work and the works of other distinguished nature artists. We work with teachers and other environmental leaders to foster understanding, appreciation and protection of the natural world. Through grant support and volunteer efforts RTPI is steadily digitizing our own Peterson collection against the erosion of quality in film, paper and paint over time.
Further, the public should know that neither the auctioned works nor the works in our collection carry with them intellectual or commercial property rights. Roger Tory Peterson's two sons, Tory Peterson and Lee A. Peterson, are members of our Board of Trustees. They have stated recently: "It always was the intention of our father that all of his work reside at the Roger Tory Peterson Institute upon his death and the death of our stepmother. Dispersal of any of his work prior to its being recorded digitally for educational and non-profit use would be tantamount to its permanent loss to the public."
As the leaders of the Peterson Institute we urge that the many collectors and avid users of Roger Tory Peterson's works consider securing the art at this auction or from other sources to gift them now or bequeath them later to our non-profit institute. Public support through annual memberships and grants and donations to RTPI will also help to preserve Dr. Peterson's legacy, which has inspired generations of environmental stewards and continues to instill a sense of connection to and wonder at the natural world. Those interested in supporting the mission and collection of the Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History may learn more at www.rtpi.org.
Anton Leenders, President
Richard R. Redington, Chair,
Board of Trustees