By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
The American Pigeon Museum and Library (APM) is celebrating a successful first anniversary with new displays honoring the US Army Signal Corps that highlights the pigeoneers of the Pigeon Service. The museum is located at 2300 NE 63rd Street in Oklahoma City.
The world’s first public museum dedicated to domestic pigeons invites everyone to join in the festivities of their Kick-Off Summer event on Friday and Saturday, June 19 and 20, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The weekend will highlight pigeon fancier and scientist Major Otto Meyer and will feature the daring feats of America’s pigeons that served in WWI and WWII.
Lorrie Monteiro, APM curator, has worked with the Center of Military History in securing the loan of one of these preserved pigeon heroes from WWI.
“These birds that flew in WWI and WWII saved many lives due to their strength, intelligence, and feats of valor,” said Monteiro. “We are honored to be able to bring this to the American public, courtesy of the Center of Military History.”
“This celebration will include new art on display, food trucks to enjoy and more,” she added.
Meyer started racing pigeons in 1922 and continued his winning adventures until the 1980’s. Commissioned into military service in 1940, he quickly rose in rank and responsibility to become the Commander of the U.S. Army Pigeon Service, during WWII.
In 1943, the Army Pigeon Service agency was activated, and Meyer, with the rank of Major, was put in charge of the Army’s worldwide pigeon breeding and training program. Under his command, U.S. Army Pigeon Service consisted of 3,150 soldiers and 54,000 war pigeons.
After the war, Meyer participated as a consultant and technical adviser on many scientific studies conducted by world renowned universities, including: Penn State, Duke, Cornell, Harvard, Cambridge, Middlebury College and the Max Plank Institute in Germany.
He was a prolific writer and speaker giving over 1,500 lectures and authoring many articles on the feathered sport. In addition, he was also a long time member of the American Trenton Breeders Association.
Meyer’s scientific research on the subject of “Feather Reading” covers a period of over fifty years. In 1978, The Pocket Racing Pigeon, a magazine edited by Bob Popkin, published “Feather Reading” in its entirety in the seventeen-page booklet.
The APM is the nation’s only museum devoted to the 5,000 year history of humans raising pigeons.
This event will also highlight several new art exhibits in the museum including the Bowditch+Zeltner exhibit, which features quotes and illustrations by Fiona Bowditch (London, UK) & Daniel.Zeltner (Basel, CH).
One special display will feature works by Millard Sheets. During World War II, he was an artist-correspondent for Life magazine and the United States Air Force in India and Burma.
“Thanks to a great supporter of the museum, a few limited edition prints by Millard Sheets will be on display,” Monteiro said. “Mr. Sheets was part of a small group of painters who developed a new style of watercolor painting in the 1930’s and 40’s. It became known as the California Regionlist School
“There will also be a discussion and book signing by artist and author Lucien van Oosten,” she added.
A photography exhibit of city pigeons from around the world will be available by Michael Middleton.
“Please come help celebrate our one year anniversary but more importantly pay tribute to the 155th anniversary of the US Army Signal Corp and the hero men and pigeons who served,” said Monteiro.
Additional opening ceremony events will feature a White pigeon release, live fancy pigeons, and a variety of activities for children.
For more information on the museum and the opening events, visit www.theamericanpigeonmuseum.org.