The Great Animal Orchestra: Bernie Krause and United Visual Artists

On view November 20, 2021 through July 10, 2022

The Peabody Essex Museum and the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain are proud to present the North American premiere of The Great Animal Orchestra.

Step into an immersive audio-visual experience that celebrates our planet’s rich biodiversity. Over the course of nearly fifty years, Bernie Krause collected more than 5,000 hours of recordings of natural environments, including at least 15,000 terrestrial and marine species from around the world.

Trained as a musician, Krause found animal vocalizations in the natural world to be akin to musical harmony and orchestral organization. Krause’s soundscapes reveal that within any ecosystem, each species has its own acoustic niche and human activities are increasingly silencing these great animal orchestras. United Visual Artists (UVA) worked with Krause to visualize these recordings as animated spectrograms, which immerse us in the heart of these wild soundscapes. This unique installation makes a plea for preserving the wondrous diversity of the animal world.

In conjunction with the exhibition, PEM will present daily screenings of a newly released documentary produced by the Fondation Cartier and directed by French filmmaker Vincent Tricon in Morse Auditorium. Bernie Krause, A Life with The Great Animal Orchestra (37 minutes) illuminates Krause’s pioneering work as a musician and soundscape ecologist. Please note: Viewing times are subject to change based on daily programming activity.

The Great Animal Orchestra, a collaboration between Bernie Krause and United Visual Artists, was commissioned in 2016 by the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, and is now part of its permanent collection. The exhibition is organized by the Peabody Essex Museum and the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain.

The exhibition is presented as part of PEM’s Climate + Environment Initiative and is made possible by a generous gift from the Creighton family and the Albert M. Creighton Jr. Fund for Art and Nature. Additional support was provided by Peter and Sandra Lawrence and individuals who support the Exhibition Incubation Fund: Jennifer and Andrew Borggaard, James B. and Mary Lou Hawkes, Kate and Ford O'Neil, and Henry and Callie Brauer. We also recognize the generosity of the East India Marine Associates of the Peabody Essex Museum.

FoundationCartier and PEM logos

Below, Bernie Krause speaks about The Great Animal Orchestra during its 2016 debut at the Fondation Cartier pour l‘art contemporain, Paris:

Below, Matthew Clark (United Visual Artists) and Bernie Krause speak about The Great Animal Orchestra during its 2016 debut at the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris:

TOP IMAGE: Bernie Krause and United Visual Artists, The Great Animal Orchestra. Installation view at Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris, 2016. Photo © Luc Boegly.

Media Partners


Share your impressions with us on social media using #TheGreatAnimalOrchestra and #PEMClimate

Artist Conversation

Bernie Krause and Matthew Clark, The Great Animal Orchestra

Climate + Environment Talk

Brazilian field ecologist Marcia Macedo and Bernie Krause talk about the challenges facing the Amazon rainforest.

Plan your visit

PEM is open Mondays, Thursdays, Saturdays & Sundays 10 am–5 pm, Fridays 10 am-7 pm.

Learn what steps are being taken to ensure the health and safety of our community at pem.org/safety.

Visitors may purchase advanced general admission tickets at pem.org/tickets or by calling 978-542-1511.

Admission: Adults $20; seniors $18; students $12; youth, members, and Salem residents free.

Location: East India Square, 161 Essex Street, Salem, MA 01970.

Related \\ Connected

PEMcast Episode 25: Embracing The Great Animal Orchestra and tidying our sonic realm

Related \\ Connected

A word with Bernie Krause

Related \\ Connected

A word with Matt Clark