Beatrix Potter: Drawn to Nature

February 23, 2024 – June 9, 2024


New York, NY (December 14, 2023) –The Morgan Library & Museum is pleased to present Beatrix Potter: Drawn to Nature. Opening February 23 and on view through June 9, 2024, the exhibition tells the life story of Beatrix Potter, one of the twentieth century’s best-loved authors of children’s fiction. The exhibition is rooted in Potter’s relationship with the natural world, from the influence of the countryside in her youth to her passion for sheep farming and land conservation in adulthood. Organized by the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A), London, the exhibition brings together artworks, books, manuscripts, and artifacts from several institutions in the United Kingdom, including the V&A, the National Trust, and the Armitt Museum and Library. Paired with the Morgan’s exceptional collection of Potter’s picture letters, these objects show how her innovative blend of scientific observation and imaginative storytelling shaped some of the world’s most popular children’s books.


Beatrix Potter (1866–1943), Mrs. Rabbit pouring out the tea for Peter while her children look on, 1902-1907. Linder Bequest. Museum no. BP.468. ©Victoria and Albert Museum, London /courtesy of Frederick Warne & Co. Ltd. 


The first section, Town and Country, establishes a sense of the places and spaces that defined Potter’s childhood, starting with her life in South Kensington, London. Exploring Potter’s family life and her development as an artist, this section includes early sketchbooks, objects from her home, artwork by her family, and even a page of an encrypted diary that Potter kept from her adolescence into her 30s.

The next section, Under the Microscope, examines Potter’s interest in the natural sciences, including insects, anatomy, and mycology, or the study of fungi. This section traces the fascination
with animals that Potter shared with her brother, Bertram, highlighting their collection of pets,
which the siblings studied by making drawings. It also showcases Potter’s work as an amateur mycologist through the display of intricate and scientifically impressive drawings of fungi. The subsection “In the Country” delves into Potter’s formative childhood summers spent in Scotland and in northwest England’s Lake District, where she collected fossils, fungi, and other natural ephemera. It explores the influence of these travels with her family, emphasizing how nature shaped Potter’s artistic process, as seen in early sketches and picture letters depicting natural scenery.

The third section, A Natural Storyteller, reveals Potter’s almost accidental journey to becoming a best-selling author, centering on the beloved books that Potter wrote for children and the stories behind them. This section builds from her early commercial holiday card designs to her first book, The Tale of Peter Rabbit.

On view are preparatory sketches for


Beatrix Potter, aged 15, with her dog, Spot. Photograph by Rupert Potter, ca. 1880–01. V&A Linder Bequest, Museum no. BP.1425. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London, courtesy of Frederick Warne & Co. Ltd. 


On view are preparatory sketches for Peter Rabbit, as well as Potter’s paintings of the real-life places that inspired Mr. McGregor’s garden in The Tale of Benjamin Bunny. The installation includes miniatures that reflect the small scale of many of Potter’s stories, including tiny letters that she wrote in the voices of her characters and sent to children. Small-scale reading is central to an understanding of Potter’s work, and many of her “little books” that she published following The Tale of Peter Rabbit are also on view.

Finally, the section Living Nature follows Potter into her later life in the Lake District in northwest England. Through letters, photographs, and paintings, the section shows how Potter transitioned away from working as an illustrator and writer in order to dedicate herself to her community and its environment through farming and conservation.

The show ends with a look at the four thousand acres she bequeathed to the UK’s National Trust, highlighting Potter’s extraordinary legacy, which persists not only in her books but in the environment itself: her efforts helped preserve the natural spaces that fostered her scientific pursuits and fired her imagination. Today, the National Trust owns and cares for over twenty percent of the Lake District, now a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Other highlights from the exhibition include an 1893 picture letter from Potter to a child named Noel Moore, in which she tells for the first time the story that would eventually become The Tale of Peter Rabbit. Also on view are personal effects from Potter’s life, from an early childhood paint box to a walking stick and clogs used in her later years in the Lake District. 


Beatrix Potter (1866–1943), Drawing of Appley Dapply going to the cupboard, 1891. Given by the Linder Collection. ©Victoria and Albert Museum, London, courtesy of Frederick Warne & Co. Ltd. and the Linder Collection. 


Colin B. Bailey, Director of the Morgan Library & Museum, said, “The Morgan is extremely pleased to present this comprehensive, biographical exhibition on Beatrix Potter in collaboration with the Victoria and Albert Museum, furthering our commitment to preserving, collecting, and presenting the history of children’s literature. There are few better role models for young visitors (and their families) to the Morgan than Beatrix Potter, who was not only an outstanding illustrator and writer but also an ardent conservationist concerned with issues of preservation that remain relevant today.” 


This exhibition at the Morgan is organized by Philip Palmer, Robert H. Taylor Curator and Department Head of Literary and Historical Manuscripts, and was created by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. 


Beatrix Potter: Drawn to Nature

February 23–June 9, 2024

The Morgan Library & Museum 

225 Madison Avenue at 36th Street New York, NY 10016 



More programs to be announced at Public Programs:

Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life

Friday, March 22, 2024, 6 – 7 pm

Join Marta McDowell, author of the new publication Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life, for a lecture and book signing. Free; advance registration is recommended.

Beatrix Potter’s classic characters exist in a charmed world filled with flowers and gardens, a world born of Potter’s own passion for nature, its flora, and fauna. Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life takes the reader on an engaging and delightful journey through the intersection of gardening and literature. McDowell traces the development of Beatrix Potter’s life as a gardener, from her childhood interest in plants, through her work as an artist and author, to her final years as an estate farmer and naturalist. The book begins with her gardener’s biography, highlighting the key moments and places throughout Potter’s life, including her home Hill Top Farm in England’s Lake District. Next, the reader follows Potter through a year in her garden, with a season-by-season overview of the blooms which inspired the beloved children’s author’s illustrations. Finally, the book culminates in a traveler’s guide, with information on how and where to visit Potter’s gardens today.

Family Programs:

All activities are free with museum admission. The Morgan is free to children 12 and under. Family First Saturdays: Exhibition Tour and Storytime at the Morgan Saturday, March 2, 2024, 11 am–12 pm, Saturday, April 6, 2024, 11 am–12 pm, and Saturday, June 1, 2024, 11 am–12 pm

Leap off the page with our family program geared toward young readers. Enjoy a family tour of the exhibition Beatrix Potter: Drawn to Nature followed by a picture book storytime. Families will explore books celebrating the life and works of Beatrix Potter.

Recommended for families and children ages 4–8.


Spring Family Fair

Sunday, May 5, 2024, 2 – 4:30 pm

Celebrate the spring season with the reopening of the Morgan Garden and enjoy artmaking, storytime, and hands-on activities themed to our current exhibitions, including Beatrix Potter: Drawn to Nature and Walton Ford: Birds and Beasts of the Studio. 



Beatrix Potter: Drawn to Nature

Created by the V&A – Touring the World. 

Beatrix Potter: Drawn to Nature is made possible by major support from the Drue Heinz Charitable Trust, the Drue Heinz Exhibitions and Programs Fund, Susan Jaffe Tane, and an anonymous donor, with generous support from Katharine J. Rayner, the Christian Humann Foundation, the Caroline Morgan Macomber Fund, and Rudy L. Ruggles, Jr. 



A museum and independent research library located in the heart of New York City, the Morgan Library & Museum began as the personal library of financier, collector, and cultural benefactor Pierpont Morgan. The Morgan offers visitors close encounters with great works of human accomplishment in a setting treasured for its intimate scale and historic significance. Its collection of manuscripts, rare books, music, drawings, and works of art comprises a unique and dynamic record of civilization, as well as an incomparable repository of ideas and of the creative process from 4000 BC to the present.

The Morgan Library & Museum | 225 Madison Avenue | 212.685.0008 |


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The Morgan Library & Museum, NYC / 2006 



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