As the North American bison population was hunted from millions to mere hundreds by the early 1880s, the animal captured the popular imagination as a symbol of the Old West. Sculptors produced bronze statuettes representing the bison as a metaphor for a bygone past, basing their work on direct observations from western travels as well as visits to urban zoos. Their eastern destination of choice was the Bronx Zoo, which opened to the public in 1899, and led efforts to display bison in an appropriate habitat setting and to repopulate the breed in its native West. The speakers for this event examine the impact and interconnectedness of artistic representations and conservation efforts, past and present, involving this iconic animal.
Patrick Thomas, Vice President, General Curator, and Associate Director, Bronx Zoo, Wildlife Conservation Society
Thayer Tolles, Marica F. Vilcek Curator of American Paintings and Sculpture, The American Wing, MMA
This program was presented in conjunction with the exhibition The American West in Bronze, 1850–1925, on view from December 18, 2013, to April 13, 2014.
Recorded March 19, 2014
This lecture is made possible by the Clara Lloyd-Smith Weber Fund.