Forsberg's 'On Ancient Wings' exhibit celebrates sandhill cranes

Released on 02/18/2008, at 2:00 AM
Office of University Communications
University of Nebraska–Lincoln

WHERE: Cooper Gallery, University of Nebraska State Museum (Morrill Hall), 14th and U Streets

, February 18th, 2008 —
An image from the
An image from the "On Ancient Wings" exhibit - "Sandhill Crane, on Ancient Wings," by Michael Forsberg.

An exhibit of photographs by Lincoln photographer Michael Forsberg at the University of Nebraska State Museum coincides with the sandhill cranes' arrival in Nebraska.

Every March along the Platte River, fields come to life with elegant visitors. At first, the migrating sandhill cranes do not stand out from last harvest's graying stalks, but when the birds rise in graceful flight, thousands of them together with their long legs trailing, they are awe-inspiring. Through 44 stunning color photographs, "On Ancient Wings," on exhibit through Aug. 14 in the museum's third-floor Cooper Gallery, intertwines the lives of cranes, people and their common places. The exhibit tells an enduring story at a time when North American sandhill crane colonies and their natural habitats face daunting prospects.

Forsberg engaged in an extraordinary five-year, 65,000-mile personal odyssey from the Alaskan tundra to the arid high plains of the American West, from Cuban nature preserves to suburban backyards in Florida to document the cranes' native habitat, flyways and annual journeys. Forsberg's work also recorded the extraordinary human efforts undertaken to raise young birds and return them to their natural habitat, and his exploration reveals the challenges cranes face to adapt and survive in a rapidly changing natural world.

"When I am photographing prairie wildlife, I often feel like I am chasing ghosts," Forsberg said, "photographing the survivors of prairie species whose numbers have been decimated, or all but eliminated from these wide-open spaces. Even on the Platte River, where 500,000 sandhill cranes and millions of ducks and geese find critical refuge each spring, there is the underlying reality that only a fraction of the habitat remains that existed a century ago."

Besides raising awareness about stewardship and conservation, Forsberg's photographs have been honored by The Wildlife Society, the 2001 Pictures of the Year competition, and the BBC's International Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition for 2003, which honored Forsberg as a Highly Commended winner for his image of a sandhill crane and chick titled "Mother's Touch No. 086." Forsberg's photographs have appeared in publications including National Geographic, Audubon, National Wildlife and Natural History.

The NU State Museum of Natural History in Morrill Hall, 14th and U streets, is open from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1:30-4:30 p.m. Sundays. Admission is $5 for adults (19 and older), $3 for children (5-18 years, 4 and younger are free), and $10 for families (up to two adults and children). There is an additional charge for planetarium shows. Parking is free. For more information, call Jennifer Cantrell at (402) 472-3779 or visit

CONTACT: Jennifer Cantrell, NU State Museum, (402) 472-3779