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Backyard Bash: Conference of the Birds

October 24–November 19, 2020 / Marvin Grove

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The Museum's 5th Annual Backyard Bash is a month-long celebration anchored by the installation Conference of the Birds, a series of 13 sculptural “nests” created by KU students, commissioned by the Museum, and situated throughout Marvin Grove. The artists are graduate and undergraduate students representing architecture, physics, social welfare, and visual art.

Conference of the Birds borrows its name from a 12th-century poem by Farid Ud-Din Attar in which a gathering of the world’s birds embark on a quest for a leader and spiritual truth to overcome the challenges of their world—many of which we face today. Different nests in the installation investigate themes of adaptation, shelter, sustainability, community care, and the human impact on our ecosphere. These ideas are also explored in the Museum's exhibition Audubon in the Anthropocene.

We invite you to embark on a quest for nests throughout the Grove. As the leaves fall, look up to spy nests created by inhabitants of the Grove and look around to engage with their artistic counterparts. Check our social media for hints about free activities and other surprises appearing in the installation throughout the month.

Backyard Bash: Conference of the Birds is generously supported by The Beach-Edwards Family Foundation, Steve Sears, and the Linda Inman Bailey Exhibitions Fund. Additional programming support is provided by KU Student Senate. We wish to thank our partners at the KU Natural History Museum and the Kenneth Spencer Research Library for creating activities for exploration in Marvin Grove.

Download the Conference of the Birds map and guide.

Free Activities

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A design with a black background shows bright green and orange abstracted birds flying in different directions and forming a heart space in the center with negative space