Exhibition of Brewster's Woods at Concord Museum
December 15, 2021
To my great surprise, the Farm was simply alive with birds the entire morning.
~ William Brewster (April 7, 1893)
The above observation by William Brewster (1851-1919), Mass Audubon's first President, was in reference to October Farm in Concord, his property on the Concord River where he dedicated much of the final three decades of his life to the study of birds.
In 2019, Mass Audubon received the largest gift in its history—a 143-acre property on the site of the former October Farm from far-sighted owners Nancy and Reiner Beeuwkes.
Today, Brewster's riverside retreat and field laboratory is being transformed into our Brewster's Woods Wildlife Sanctuary.
Alive with Birds: William Brewster in Concord
In celebration, Mass Audubon was pleased to collaborate with the renowned Concord Museum on an exhibition that explored William Brewster's life and legacy in Concord. The Alive with Birds: William Brewster in Concord exhibition ran from March 4-September 5, 2022, allowing many people to enjoy an artistic and historical view into Brewster’s time in Concord.
Through image, text, and multimedia, the exhibition explored multiple facets of Brewster's life at October Farm and in the community—from his evolution as an ornithologist and the increasingly important contributions of his longtime assistant, Black ornithologist and photographer Robert Gilbert, to Brewster's legacy of land preservation, a tradition that lives on at Brewster's Woods and throughout Concord.
An 11-minute nature film featuring landscapes and wildlife of Brewster’s Woods through all seasons, interspersed with quotes from Brewster’s journals, provided an immersive virtual experience of the sanctuary.
The exhibition included a range of objects related to Brewster and October Farm including more than 20 works from Mass Audubon's Museum of American Bird Art; his field glasses and journals; and bird specimens Brewster collected through his association with the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology.
Alive with Birds: William Brewster in Concord not only provided visitors with greater understanding of this early (and many would argue, under-appreciated) champion of avifauna and the habitats they depend upon but may well have inspired them to forge their own connections with the natural world at a time when nature has never been more important, or vulnerable.