The Donald E. Bowman bird collection is one of the premier bird collections in the world. This incredible collection contains 405 superbly prepared specimens poised in natural positions that appear perfect to the critic’s eye. The Welder Wildlife Foundation currently houses 300 of these birds and will receive the remainder over the next few years.
The collection contains specimens of most of the waterfowl of North America and many North American raptor, quail, and grouse species. It also contains specimens from throughout the world. The collection represents 170 species from 25 bird families and 92 genera. It also contains specimens of two extinct bird species: the passenger pigeon (Ectopistes migratorius) and heath hen (Tympanuchus cupido cupido), considered a race of the greater prairie-chicken. The Bowman collection also contains authentically reconstructed specimens of other extinct species: the Labrador duck (Camptorhynchus labraddorius), great auk (Pinguinus impennis), pink-headed duck (Rhodonesssa caryophylacea), and Korean crested shellduck (Tadorina cristata).
The majority of birds in his collection were donated to the Welder Wildlife Foundation in March 2003. Don Bowman’s technique has been featured in professional bird taxidermy publications and is used by many taxidermists, including the internationally renowned Jonas Bros of Denver, Colorado.
The Francis Lee Jaques collection consists of three extraordinary three-dimensional dioramas and six murals depicting wildlife and habitats found on the Welder Wildlife Foundation’s Refuge. Jaques was commissioned in 1956 by Dr. Clarence Cottam to create these murals.
Francis Lee Jaques (1887-1969) was a celebrated artist who spent much of his career (1924-1942) as a staff artist for the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Throughout his career he illustrated over 70 books and painted more than 80 murals. Jaques’ expeditions to create sketches for murals took him from Alaska to South America. Additional works by Jaques are still on display at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, the Museum of Science in Boston, the Peabody Museum in New Haven, the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, and the Bell Museum of Natural History at the University of Minnesota. A traveling exhibit of his works entitled “Francis Lee Jaques: Master Artist of the Wild” is still available from the Bell Museum and contains 70 paintings, drawings and watercolors; one sculpture, ten photos, and six interpretive panels.
His illustrations appeared in magazines such as Life, Saturday Evening Post, Outdoor Life, and Field and Stream. He strove not to record details, but to interpret meaning in nature. He is quoted as saying, “I think that the painter of wilderness life must be at heart an interpreter.”