Thoreau’s Maine Woods: A Journey in Photographs with Scot Miller, a new exhibition opens November 16 at the Harvard Museum of Natural History

November 16, 2013

In commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the publication of Henry David Thoreau’s The Maine Woods, the Harvard Museum of Natural History offers an exhibition of finely crafted photographic prints by photographer Scot Miller, who has traversed the state of Maine for years, retracing the footsteps of New England’s native son, Henry David Thoreau. Opening Saturday, November 16, 2013, Thoreau’s Maine Woods: A Journey in Photographs with Scot Miller, will feature stunning photographs of many places that Thoreau explored and wrote about, along with historical information, a Penobscot Indian-made snowshoe owned by Thoreau, and stunning specimens from Harvard’s collections, including one-of-a-kind plant samples collected in northern Maine by Thoreau himself! The exhibition complements the ongoing exhibition, New England Forests in the Zofnass Family Gallery. The Thoreau’s Maine Woods exhibition runs through September 1, 2014.

The exhibition opening public lecture, Illustrating Thoreau’s Maine Woods: A Photographer’s Journey with Scot Miller, will be held on Thursday, November 14 at 6:00 pm. Miller will discuss his seven-year project photographing northern Maine for his new book, The Maine Woods: A Photographic Journey Through an American Wilderness (Levenger Press). Miller combines contemporary imagery with original text from Thoreau’s classic essay collection, The Maine Woods, first published 150 years ago. He will also screen The Unexpected Journey, a short documentary about the making of his book.

The talk and screening are free and open to the public at 24 Oxford Street. Following the presentation, Scot Miller will sign copies of the book. The museum offers free evening event parking in the 52 Oxford Street Garage after 5:00 pm.

A members-only reception and exhibition preview of Thoreau’s Maine Woods will be held after the lecture in the exhibition gallery.

Miller’s stunning images in the new exhibition allow the visitor to see, even today, much of what Thoreau saw in his Maine Woods journeys, as well as to witness and contemplate contemporary change in one of the most remote and magnificent “wild” places in the continental U.S.

One of the four Harvard Museums of Science & Culture, the Harvard Museum of Natural History is located on the historic campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts at 26 Oxford Street, a ten-minute walk from Harvard Square. The museum is open daily from 9:00–5:00 pm.

About Scot Miller: 

A highly regarded photographer, Scot Miller’s work has formed the basis of numerous books, including Walden: The 150th Anniversary Illustrated Edition of the American Classic; Cape Cod: Illustrated Edition of the American Classic; First Light: Five Photographers Explore Yosemite’s Wilderness; and My First Summer in the Sierra: 100th Anniversary Illustrated Edition, winner of a 2011 National Outdoor Book Award. He is 

a contributor to the “Moment of Nature” videos, broadcast nationally on the Emmy Award-winning CBS “Sunday Morning.” Miller’s photographic collaborations include work with the Walden Woods Project and Yosemite Conservancy. His work has been featured in D Magazine, Texas Highways Magazine, America West Magazine, Cape Cod Life, National Wildlife, and Yosemite Magazine. In addition to his 2005 Walden exhibition at the Harvard Museum of Natural History, Scott Miller’s prints have been exhibited at the Ansel Adams Gallery in Yosemite National Park, the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, the Thoreau Institute at Walden Pond, the North Carolina Forestry Museum, the Cincinnati Museum Center, and other venues across the country.

About the book:

Thoreau’s The Maine Woods was published posthumously in 1864, two years after his death. It contains three separate accounts by Thoreau of his trips to the northern Maine wilderness. The first was in 1846, when he climbed Mount Katahdin (Thoreau spelled it “Ktaadn”). The second was in 1853 and titled “Chesuncook” in which he recounts a moose hunt. The third, in 1857, is titled “The Allegash and East Branch.” It tells of Thoreau’s river journey, where his Penobscot guide paid him the high compliment of conferring on him an Indian name that meant “great paddler.” Throughout The Maine Woods, Thoreau muses about botany and philosophy. He recounts the pleasures of sleeping with the sky as his ceiling and relays the Penobscot names for rivers and streams and other characteristics of the Maine Woods (the word “echo” is Pockadunkquaywayle). He delights in the blueberries and bemoans the mosquitoes!

The Maine Woods is a great example of classic nature/human experience writing by Thoreau and his first

exposure to true wilderness, which had a great effect on his life. Thoreau biographer Robert D. Richardson credits the Chesuncook chapter, in which Thoreau calls for the creation of national preserves, to be “one of the founding statements of the conservation movement” and also says “it is not only our earliest, but also our sanest, most balanced call for preservation of the wilderness.”

Media Contact:

Mary Blue Magruder

Director of Communications

Harvard Museum of Natural History/

Harvard Museums of Science & Culture

26 Oxford Street, Cambridge, MA 02138

617-496-0049 •

See also: Press Release