In 2024, RTPI is celebrating two milestone anniversaries. This year marks the 90th year since the publication of the first Peterson Field Guide. In hindsight, it seems inevitable that Peterson’s A Field Guide to the Birds would become the best-selling field guide of all time. At the time, however, there wasn’t much confidence that this small book with a big ticket price ($2.75 was a lot of money at the height of the Great Depression), created by a young artist, a no-name bird enthusiast from Jamestown, New York, would sell out its initial run of 2,000 copies. Since then, across several subsequent editions, the Peterson Field Guide to Birds has sold upwards of 15 million copies, sparking a worldwide awakening to the beauty and wonder of birds.

This year also marks the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Roger Tory Peterson Institute. RTPI is a nature art museum, home to the largest collection of Roger’s original artwork and related materials. Building upon Roger’s legacy as one of the most famous artist-naturalists in the world, RTPI’s mission is to be a leader for the study, exhibition and nurturing of Art that Matters to the Planet. Through world class exhibitions and programs, RTPI illuminates the beauty of nature; challenges us to confront environmental issues of regional, national and global concern; and inspires us to preserve the earth’s biodiversity – with a particular emphasis on the natural area wonders of Western New York.

In addition to our regular schedule of nature art exhibitions and programs, RTPI is offering a suite of special Anniversary Programs and Exhibitions, along with insights from scholars, artists and conservationists, culled from interviews and our archives. For more information, please click on the links below.

If you would like to add your voice to our Anniversary Season, to share your experiences of the Peterson field guide, let us know. Please email us your story at FieldGuideFans@rtpi.org.

If you would like to share your story about the bird that sparked your passion for birds (Roger’s “spark bird” was a northern flicker), click on the Spark Bird Project below.