The Pember Collection

A Victorian glass and cherry cabinet full of nests and eggs, collected in the late-1800s, stretches 15-feet from end to end at the Pember Museum of Natural History in Granville, NY. I’ve been going to the museum once a year for the last 10 years and I never tire of that case. The variety of the collection astounds me; I will never exhaust its sketching possibilities. I spent two hours absorbed the details of 125 year old nests before running out of time on my recent visit. If only the birds knew what a legacy they left.pember_eggs-nest_2016_800c

My advice for sketching at a museum: check in upon arrival to introduce yourself and ask whether there are any restrictions. Keep your supplies contained—pencil, pen, and sketchbook with a small set of watercolors or colored pencils work well. Recognize when other museum goers, and especially kids, want to look at what you are observing. If you’re comfortable and people seem interested, invite them to have a look at your artwork. I’ve met a number of aspiring young artists in museums and always enjoy encouraging them.

The Pember Collection- A gallery of sketches dating to 2006 (click to view larger)

ATTN sketchers/painters/photographers
If you love sketching or photographing birds and nature, want to improve your skills, and have a fun week exploring the beautiful rocky coast of Maine, check out Arts and Birding, a five-day workshop at the Hog Island Audubon Camp, June 11-16, 2017. I am the program director and one of the instructors and I guarantee a great experience! Beginners to advanced participants are welcome—we work in a very collaborative, positive atmosphere. Register by Dec. 20 using the “EARLYBIRD” discount and save $50. Get Details >

36 Comments on “The Pember Collection

  1. What a treasure that museum is – I had to look Granville up on the map – it’s up there! I love this collection of natural history – especially the Nautilus shell and Robin’s nest. And the coffee cup! Not to mention the advice.
    There’s an old rural library with a similar, but smaller collection in Pawling, the Akin Free Library.
    If the link doesn’t work, do google it and look at the images!

    • Oh- That place looks like it would be right up my alley! I’m going to have to see whether it is closer. I only get to the Pember once a year because it takes me about 2 hours to get there. I love these hidden gem museums.

  2. Super advice – and 125-year-old nest, oh my – how wonderful! I love your sketches and dating back to 2006, almost as wonderful as the age of that nest 😉

  3. What a beautiful collection of sketches. Your colors make these old nests look like you just stumbled on them in nature. I have a collection of nests, unfortunately not in a glass case.
    They are packed away and come out every spring to sit on a console table. I treasure them!
    Thanks for the inspiration once again.

    • I also love stumbling on nests in nature, but they are often more difficult to sketch in the field since they are usually half hidden in brambles or too high to really see well. It’s nice to be able to have a good, closeup look. They are treasure, though! Glad you enjoyed these!

  4. Thank you for opening your sketch book for us! Love this collection of nature. This museum must be such a treasure!

    • Thanks Cathe– It was fun to go back through my old sketchbooks and pull out a few things. The Pember Collection is so rich…it really is a treasure and they are very welcoming to artists. Hope you’re creating some fun things these days, too!

  5. Ooo, more beautiful nests! Always my favorite of your sketches! I love the depth of your colors especially in the November 26 and 29 nests. It was also fun to see a history of your Pember sketches.

  6. These drawings are just beautiful and inspiring. I had never thought of painting birds’ nests before, but they are such delicate and intricate creations, I feel I must have a go. Thank you!

    • Thank you! It’s been a good thing for me to put my artwork out into the wider world and see where it leads. I appreciate the connections I’ve made with other artists– and non-artists– because of it. Thanks for making a positive connection!

    • Thank you! That nest was done on nicer paper– Fabriano soft press– and it makes a nice difference. You get more subtlety with the watercolor. Glad you like the collection!

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