Art Around the Center
The Hand Cupola
The cupola crowning the Day Butterfly Center was originally on top of the childhood home of Virginia Hand Callaway, co-founder of the Gardens. The residence, Highland Villa, was completed in 1899 in the South Georgia town of Pelham. When the house was demolished in 1971, the cupola was saved by Mrs. Callaway and brought to Callaway Gardens. The cupola’s brass door locks and hinges were closely examined and it was discovered that these ornate, engraved pieces featured flower, hummingbird and butterfly designs. How appropriate that this lovely Victorian structure is the crowning feature of the Day Butterfly Center.
The Totem Pole
The Butterfly Center’s educational totem pole is a beautiful solid teak sculpture 12’ tall, 42” wide at the apex, and weights around 900 pounds. The carving depicts the entire life cycle of the Monarch Butterfly. It starts at the base with eggs on host plant leaves. Next, there are caterpillars (the larval stage), chrysalides (the pupa stage), and finally the winged adults flying free of the sculpture at the top. The sculpture was created in Florida by sculptor Donald Reynolds and was commissioned for the Day Butterfly Center by Deen Day Sanders. Before arriving at its permanent home here at Callaway Gardens, the sculpture was briefly displayed at Epcot Center in Orlando, Florida in conjunction with their Garden Festival.
Artisan Ivan Bailey of Atlanta designed the copper chandelier depicting the passionflower vine, Passiflora incarnata, a host plant for many species of passionflower or longwing butterflies from the family Heliconiidae.
Amiee Lacy of the Lacy-Champion Carpet Mills in Fairmount, Georgia, designed the hand-tufted octagonal wool rug. The border design represents butterflies of the world and the Eastern Tiger Swallowtails in the center are Georgia’s state butterfly. The two yellow-striped ones represent the male and the two dark ones represent the female. Lacy-Champion Carpet Mills closed. In partnership with a Lacy-Champion family member working for a spin-off company, a replica was created in 2017 and installed in 2018 in a timely fashion to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Center.
In the lobby is a collection of original watercolors by the early 19th century artist, Chevalier de Freminville. Thought to be lost for 100 years, they surfaced again in 1983 and were purchased and donated by Mrs. Deen Day Sanders.
In addition, 21 original watercolors by John Abbot each depict the life cycle of a different species of butterfly and moth. John Abbott was one of the first artists in Georgia to combine his artistic talent with his knowledge of nature. He lived in Georgia from 1776 to 1840, observing and painting plants and animals of the state. Using watercolors, he illustrated butterflies, moths, spiders, birds and plants, which he observed in their natural habitats. His art has been compared to that of Audubon and Menaboni, two of the world’s foremost nature artists.
Abbot traveled to North America in 1773 to collect insects for the Royal Society in London. After staying two years in Virginia, he moved to Georgia where he devoted the remainder of his life to nature study and painting. Because of Abbot’s efforts, the insects and birds of Georgia were recorded earlier and more thoroughly than those of any other area of North America. Abbot died in the early l840’s and is buried in a small cemetery in Bulloch County. In 1957, a Georgia Historical Maker was placed in the cemetery to honor this remarkable man.
The film, On Wings of Wonder, is approximately 12 minutes and runs continuously in the theater. It was produced specifically for Callaway Gardens in 1988 by the Moody Institute of Science in Chicago; and recreated in high definition in 2011 with funding from Hal Northrop. Using some video shot at the Day Butterfly Center, the film tells the story of a butterfly’s life, from egg to adult, describes some prominent features of a butterfly’s anatomy, and serves as an excellent introduction for guests to the experience they will have once inside the conservatory.