The Peterson Collection

Over the course of his storied career, Roger Tory Peterson traveled the world in search of birds and other fauna and flora to paint, photograph, film and document. RTPI has been entrusted with the vast majority of his life’s work. Our goal is to preserve this unique, world-class collection, to make it accessible to scholars and researchers, and to share it as broadly and creatively as we can with artists, conservationists and lovers of nature all over the world.

Items from the collection are on rotating display throughout the museum, including in the Anderson Gallery -- the main gallery introducing visitors to the legacy of Roger Tory Peterson. Items from the collection are available for loan to art and natural history museums. For more information, please contact Maria Ferguson, Collections Curator:

Rights and Permissions

All Roger Tory Peterson intellectual property – including text, field guide plates, paintings, photographs, slides and films – are protected by copyright. The name, “Roger Tory Peterson,” is trademarked. Neither name nor intellectual property may be used for any purpose without written permission from the authorized agent of the Roger Tory Peterson Family. For all permission and licensing requests, please contact:

Arthur Klebanoff
Scott Meredith Literary Agency


The Institute holds over 1,500 original Peterson artworks, along with hundreds of limited-edition prints and lithographs. The collection includes the work of other prominent nature artists, as well, including Robert Bateman, Guy Coheleach, John Seerey-Lester, Louis Agassiz Fuertes, Keith Shackleton and J. Fenwick Lansdowne.

Films, Slides, and Photographs

The collection includes nearly 400 nature documentaries filmed by Roger Tory Peterson in the 1950 & 1960’s, along with the motion film collections of Hugh Smith, Allen Benton, Fran Hall and Olin Sewall Pettingill. There are 200,000 slides and over 250 pieces of photographic equipment used by Roger Tory Peterson and other naturalists.

Manuscripts and Books

There is over 120 cubic feet of personal papers, correspondence and manuscripts spanning more than 70 years. The collection includes books published by Peterson, along with the bulk of his personal library of journals, periodicals and books authored by other renowned naturalists and ornithologists, including Olin Sewall Pettingill and Arthur Cleveland Bent.

Study skins

Peterson acquired several private collections of preserved bird specimens, known as study skins, to use as models for his field guide art. The collection contains common, rare, and several extinct species. Most of the 1,400 specimens were collected in the mid- to late-19th century.