The Art of Angling: A Visual Celebration of Contemporary Fly Fishing

March 22 - June 12, 2004
William Ross, Head Special Collections
Dale Valena, UNH Museum Curator

angling equipment on a desk with angling books

Fly fishing is a sensory pursuit. From Dame Juliana Berners and Izaak Walton onward, its pursuers have extolled its visual beauty. For over five hundred years, anglers have tied flies, built rods, fashioned lines, and celebrated their love for the sport in writing and art.

Anglers have spent a great deal of time celebrating fly fishing's rich past. This exhibit endeavored to celebrate the present and to recognize outstanding artistic achievements happening in the world of angling.

The exhibit featured angling art, fine books, classic and modern flies, fly-tying materials and tools, and examples of fine rod and reel making. The work of well over 30 artists and craftsmen was exhibited. On opening day, fly tier Dick Talleur, fish carver Ellen McCaleb, reel maker Bob Corsetti, and bamboo-rod maker Fred Kretchman were in attendance to discuss their respective crafts.

This exhibit marked a new direction for the museum. Before this, the museum had usually developed exhibits featuring historical collections, textiles, and more traditional artwork and photography. This exhibit invited a wide range of artists and craftsmen to exhibit their angling-related work.

The department also featured selections from the Milne Angling Collection, one of the largest collections of angling literature in the United States. This collection, which numbers some 4,000 volumes, is particularly rich in materials relating to fly-fishing for trout and Atlantic salmon, with special emphasis on fishing in New England and eastern Canada. Contemporary examples of fine printing and binding from the Milne collection were on display.

For more information, visit the Douglas M. and Helena McElwain Milne Angling Collection.

Painting of a canoe at the water's edgeFour multicolored fishing fliesFly tying vice