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Upcoming Events

Book Signing with Author Henry R. Danielson – Saturday, August 17, 11am-1pm

Join us for a book signing with local author Henry Danielson on Saturday, August 17, from 11am-1pm.  Henry’s feature book “Island People: Deep Water Dreams”, as well as his first book “Island People: Finding Our Way” are available for purchase in RTPI’s museum store.  “Island People: Deep Water Dreams” is also available in paperback at the Ashville General Store, Bemus Point Pottery, the Chautauqua Bookstore, the Fenton Museum, Hollyloft Ski and Bike, the Lawson Center, and Off the Beaten Path Bookstore.  The book is also available in paperback and e-book at Amazon.com.  Read the August 1st article on Danielson’s newest book here: https://www.post-journal.com/life/arts-entertainment/2019/08/fantastic-voyage/


Aquatic Invasive Species Events – July – September

This summer, the Roger Tory Peterson Institute (RTPI), in partnership with the Chautauqua Lake & Watershed Management Alliance, the County of Chautauqua, and Evergreen Outfitters in Mayville, will be offering a series of public programs and volunteer opportunities focused on Chautauqua Lake’s “weeds”. Through these programs, you can learn how to differentiate the beneficial, native aquatic plant species from the invasive, problematic species, learn what we as individuals and as communities can do to prevent their spread, and participate in volunteer monitoring efforts aimed at detecting new invasive species before they become established. Programs are being offered on 7/9, 7/12, 8/6, 8/10 and 9/17, Get the details here: https://rtpi.org/what-are-these-weeds/


Art After 5 at RTPI – Third Wednesdays, July – October

RTPI invites you to celebrate the warm weather (we didn’t say dry) during our 2019 series of ‘Art After 5’ adult happy hour events. Guests to these events will enjoy live music on our patio, appetizers, beer, wine, and brief tours of the summer exhibition, “Ned Smith: The Man and the Illustrator”, all for a $10 donation. ‘Art After 5’ events will be held from 5-7 pm on the 3rd Wednesday of each month – July 17, August 21, September 18 and October 16, 2019.

Our second ‘Art After 5’ event on August 21st will feature Chautauqua Brass, a New York based chamber ensemble dedicated to communicating through music and guiding others – https://www.chautauquabrass.com/

Thank you to sponsors Mark and Pat Evans and Mary Anne Harp

Our first ‘Art After 5’ event on July 17th featured local musician Kyle Gustafson and was sponsored by Landmark Restaurant.

For more information about RTPI’s ‘Art After 5’ events, please contact Linda Pierce at (716) 665-2473 x226 or [email protected]


Humanities New York Reading and Discussion Program – Friday, July 19, 6-7pm

RTPI is hosting a series of Humanities NY Reading and Discussion programs. Participants will read a selection of books which are connected by the theme “Place and Story”; each title explores the multiple ways the American landscape influences our experiences and way of life.  Loaner copies of the title to be discussed at this meeting, “Grizzly Years: In Search of the American Wilderness” by Doug Peacock, are now available at RTPI.  Please contact Melanie Smith at 716-665-2474 ext. 221 for more information.


Ned Smith: The Man and the Illustrator – May 18 – September 22  

RTPI’s galleries now feature breathtaking original works and artifacts from the collections of the Ned Smith Center for Nature & Art.  A self-trained artist and naturalist, in his 46-year career he created thousands of astonishingly accurate drawings and paintings of wildlife for books, magazines and other publications, as well as dozens of limited-edition prints.  For more information about the Ned Smith, please visit www.nedsmithcenter.org.  View our current exhibits page for more details about the exhibition – https://rtpi.org/art/current-exhibits/.


Adult Nature Art Classes – Session 2 begins July 29!

Thank you to Robin Z. Clark and our wonderful participants for a successful first session of classes!  

The Roger Tory Peterson Institute (RTPI) is pleased to expand their education programming to include a new adult art class offering (age 55 and over) this spring and summer. Through a grant from the Tri-County Arts Council furnished by the New York State Council on the Arts Decentralization Program, local artist instructor Robin Zefers Clark will teach two series of six-week watercolor sessions in a classroom at the RTPI headquarters located at 311 Curtis Street in Jamestown.

The first classroom series took place each Monday between May 6 – June 10 from 10:00 – 11:30am.  The second series will begin on Monday, July 29 and end on September 2, and will also be from 10:00-11:30am.  Each six-week series will end with a month-long exhibition of the student’s work.  There is no fee for the classes and materials will be provided.  Students are asked to commit to the full 6 weeks as much as possible.

Jane Johnson, Director of Exhibitions and Marketing and Robin Clark will develop the program based on selected pieces from Roger Tory Peterson’s body of original artwork.  Of this new initiative, Johnson said “As we celebrate the 35th Anniversary of RTPI in 2019, we also celebrate Roger himself, who was first and foremost an artist, through classes like these and his incredible original paintings and illustrations.  We are thrilled to welcome students to these sessions and hope to cultivate new and existing artists’ talents!” Twan Leenders, President of RTPI, will provide the biology and natural history background and information for the students based on the pieces from the Peterson Collection.

Robin Clark received her Associate of Arts degree from Finger Lakes Community College and a Bachelor of Science degree in Art Education from Buffalo State College. She received her Masters of Science degree from Rochester Institute of Technology, with a major in oil painting and intensive work in graphic design and photographic studies.  Robin has had several solo and group exhibitions and has been featured in articles in Country Woman Magazine, The Buffalo News, and Focus.  Her work has won numerous awards and is featured in private collections throughout the United States, Canada, Europe and Asia. Robin lives in the pristine Allegany mountains of western New York state, where she she owns and operates Brookside Studio.

This project is made possible with funds from the Decentralization Program, a regrant program of the New York State Council on the Arts with support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and administered by Tri-County Arts Council.

Space is limited!  Please register by calling (716) 665-2473 ext. 227 or emailing [email protected]  RTPI is fully ADA compliant with multiple ramp access and an elevator that reaches both floors of the facility.


35th Anniversary Open House – August 3, 10:00am – 4:00pm

11:00 a.m. – Remarks by Chautauqua County Executive George Borrello

Thirty-five years ago, in 1984, a group of friends and colleagues of famed artist, naturalist and author Roger Tory Peterson founded the Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History in his hometown of Jamestown, New York.  In the early days when RTPI was just an idea, Lorimer Moe, Roger’s high school classmate at Jamestown High School, took the lead in enlisting broad support for the idea of an Institute in Roger’s birthplace, to honor his work and house his collections.  In fact, the Institute’s charter was signed in his home, on a dining table that his wife Helen has since donated to RTPI.  Over the years RTPI’s mission evolved to encompass the things to which Roger devoted his life: Art, Education and Conservation.

The Institute headquarters, designed by architect Robert A.M. Stern, was dedicated in 1993 and continues to house Roger’s priceless collections, to display his art, and teach about his life and groundbreaking work to share knowledge of and hope for our natural world.  Roger said at the dedication ceremony that it was “the greatest moment in my life”.

Roger Tory Peterson created the Peterson Field Guide Series, and the Peterson Identification System, which with its set of “field marks” and his detailed artwork, allowed the everyday person to study nature and identify the plants and animals found in their own back yards. That theme is carried on today in RTPI’s wide range of programs, which continue to teach that art and nature are important parts of everyday life, and indeed lead to a happier and healthier life and planet.

During the 35th Anniversary Open House, guests will see mementos from Roger Tory Peterson’s life and work, the field guides that he created, as well as his travels around the world.  There will also be never before seen artwork from the collections that has been newly framed, as well as some iconic pieces that have been restored with state-of-the-art preservation materials.  This initiative is made possible with funds raised through the Give Big CHQ campaign sponsored by the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation in Jamestown.  There will be a few special surprises, as well, during the 11:00 a.m. remarks by Chautauqua County Executive George Borrello.  Refreshments will be served, and visitors are encouraged to sign the Memory Book and share stories and memories about how Roger Tory Peterson and his work have helped them enjoy nature.  Guests can even “take a selfie with Roger” to share on a special social media page.  Commemorative 35th Anniversary t-shirts will be available for purchase, featuring a design from Peterson’s book “Wild America” about his 100-day trip along the edge of the North American continent in April 1953, covering a total of 30,000 miles.

“Cascades”, India ink, Wild America, 1955

Thousands of people have supported the Institute’s work over the last thirty-five years, and a special “35 Campaign” in 2019 hopes to build on that support for the next generation of people who value the same things that Roger Tory Peterson did. The campaign states that “If everyone who believes in what Roger Tory Peterson did to change our world makes a financial contribution to support it, we can leave the next generation a great gift – the means and knowledge to change the world themselves, by understanding and protecting the nature all around us.”


Support for RTPI’s events and exhibitions is provided by: