The Washington County Museum provides a stunning and unique glimpse through the lens of William L. Finley, a nationally known naturalist and wildlife conservationist. Forty of Finley’s black-and-white bird photographs will be on display to celebrate his tireless advocacy for wildlife preservation. The original glass plates and lantern slides created by Finley between 1902 and 1920 were donated to the museum in 1980 by Dr. Amo DeBernardis, founding president of Portland Community College.
“Unless history is written down or displayed, we often forget how things came to be,” says Sam Shogren, executive director at the museum. “This exhibit is a record of Finley’s great achievements and gives today’s burgeoning birdwatchers, conservationists and environmentalists context. To plan for our future, we must remember and honor the past.”
William L. Finley helped found the Oregon Audubon Society in 1902 (now the Audubon Society of Portland), assisted in setting up Oregon’s first Fish and Game Commission in 1911 (Finley served as commissioner from the Portland area), served as state game warden in the 1910s, and later helped set up the system of federal wildlife refuges in Oregon. Had it not been for Finley, the great marshes of Klamath, Tule and Malheur might have been lost forever.
“Finley took exceptional photographs, many of which are among the very best quality for the era,” says Barbara Mason, board member at the museum who acts as curator for this exhibit. “The museum has 612 glass-plate negatives belonging to Finley in our collections, and it is our great privilege to preserve and display them for future generations.”
Visit the companion online exhibit by clicking here.
The museum used the process of platinum printmaking, the most durable of all photographic processes, to expose the tonal range of Finley’s photographs. The metals used in this process are very stable against chemical reactions that might degrade the print, even more stable than gold. It is estimated that the museum’s prints will last thousands of years.
The exhibit opens Wednesday, May 8, and runs through Sunday, Nov. 3. Funding to create this exhibit is provided by the Oregon Heritage Commission. The exhibit will travel to other museums and art galleries throughout Oregon after it premieres at the Washington County Museum. An interactive kiosk within the exhibit will offer video created by Finley himself, additional images not featured in the exhibition, and opportunities for the public to add commentary and geographical information.
The Washington County Museum’s Exhibitions and Educational Programs space is located in the Hillsboro Civic Center Plaza Building, 120 E Main St. in downtown Hillsboro next to Starbucks. The museum is open Wednesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Admission is free for members; non-member admission is $6 for adults, $4 for seniors, students, children 18 and under, and active military. Children age 3 and under are free.
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