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Birds of Paradise
COMING SOON – May 27 through September 5 2017

This stunning exhibit developed by National Geographic and The Cornell Lab of Ornithology captures all 39 known species of birds-of-paradise. In 2004, National Geographic photographer Tim Laman and Cornell University Lab of Ornithology scientist Edwin Scholes began a series of 18 targeted expeditions to document these bizarre birds. More than a decade and 37 distinct geographic locations later, they are on the verge of completing the first comprehensive study of all 39 known species of birds of paradise. Coverage includes photographs of all varieties and several never-before documented behaviors and interactions.

The fascinating stories of groundbreaking research and adventure paired with amazing footage and photography are the foundation of this highly interactive exhibition. “Birds of Paradise” is a story of daring expeditions, world culture, extreme evolution, and conservation, as only National Geographic can present, with stunning imagery, compelling video, soundscapes, artifacts, and engaging educational activities for all ages.

“Birds of Paradise” is a science exhibition, art show, and natural history display all rolled into one exhibit that encompasses sounds bites, videos, photographs and artifacts from their expeditions. The hands-on, multi-media components and mechanical and digital mini-stations allow students to better understand how these beautiful creatures have influenced a conservation movement.

Ground Dancing

Use your best dance moves to mimic the elaborate courtship dances of the birds-of-paradise! “Dance Dance Evolution” uses motion-capture technology to turn you into a male Parotia. Try the “ballerina dance” and “hop-and-waggle” as your friends play the female Parotia, voting on your performance.


From peculiar postures to outlandish ornamental feathers, the birds-of-paradise are masters of transformation. See the remarkable ability of these male birds to transform themselves in attempts to impress the females – from the kinetic sculpture of a riflebird opening its wings, to a frame-by-frame step-through of the superb bird-of-paradise’s dance.

The Victorian Study
Introduced to Europe by Magellan’s fleet in 1521, the birds-of-paradise have attracted the interest of illustrators, naturalists, collectors, and the wealthy and fashionable. Learn about early misconceptions and the feather trade, see period bird specimens and illustrations, and discover the work of famed naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace.

Modern Science

Tim Laman and Ed Scholes’ expeditions are part of the latest chapter of scientific inquiry into the birds-of-paradise. See how their extensive photos and video are the contemporary analog to the Victorians’ physical specimens, and explore the evolutionary mechanism of sexual selection by playing the part of a bird in a touch-table interactive.



CLICK HERE for more information at the National Geographic Society, co-sponsor of the exhibit

CLICK HERE for more information about the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, co-sponsor of the exhibit

the website to learn about birds more generally

CLICK HERE to download the Educator Guide (PDF file format)

to download the Student Guide(PDF file format)


  Museum of discovery and Science, Fort Lauderdale, Florida