ATTENTION: Exhibit changeover will be taking place April 15-19. The ground floor of the museum will be impacted but the museum will remain open. Thank you for your patience as we bring you a new exhibition.

Amy Tan’s Backyard Birds

Amy Tan’s Backyard Birds illustrates Tan’s deep connection with and curiosity about the natural world, as told by the cast of feathered characters found in her own backyard. The exhibition will explore Tan’s sense of discovery through the acts of observation and drawing, her exploration of and imagination about the stories of her avian friends, and her personal insights about the important roles of both art and birds in her life.

With a display of Tan’s drawings and nature journals–featuring sketches published in The Backyard Bird Chronicles–the exhibition will reflect on her six-year project of observing and drawing the birds in her backyard. By considering the creative and iterative processes of nature journaling and field sketching, the exhibition will connect viewers with Tan’s artistic process. Through it, she exemplifies our shared human desire to feel connected with and find refuge within the natural world.

Tan is the author of The Joy Luck Club, The Kitchen God’s Wife, The Hundred Secret Senses, The Bonesetter’s Daughter, Saving Fish from Drowning, and The Valley of Amazement, all New York Times bestsellers, as well as two children’s books and the nonfiction books The Opposite of Fate and Where the Past Begins: A Writer’s Memoir. Her work has been translated into 35 languages and adapted for film, television and opera.

For her work, Tan has been nominated for the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the International Orange Prize. She is also the recipient of the Commonwealth Gold Award, the 2005 Common Wealth Award of Distinguished Service, the 2021 Carl Sandburg Literary Award, and other honors. In March 2022 she was voted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She was also awarded the 2021 National Humanities Medal by President Joe Biden in a ceremony at the White House.

A highlight of this exhibition will be Tan’s appearance at RTPI for a special program on Sunday, August 4 at 1:30 pm. This program complements an appearance by Tan at Chautauqua Institution on Tuesday, August 6.

Featured artwork: Amy Tan, A Bird in the Hand, 2017, mixed media. © Amy Tan