CHICAGO (CBS)–A relic of watercolor creations painted by famed American wildlife artist James Audubon more than 150 years ago has been dusted off and pulled out of the Field Museum’s archives and put on display for public consumption.

The Field Museum’s newest exhibit, ‘Audubon’s Birds of America’, showcases about 100 hand-painted species of North American birds on three-foot-tall pages.

The book was kept in storage for many years in an area known to museum curators as the ‘behind the scenes’ section, according to Kate Golembiewski, a spokesperson for the Field Museum. Along with thousands of other interesting artifacts kept in a private area the back of the museum, in the past the public was able to see ‘Audubon’s Birds of America’ only by making a reservation.

(Michelle Kuo)

Curators recently decided the giant book was worthy of its own exhibit. The display opened to the public April 19 in the T. Kimball and Nancy N. Booker Gallery and it will remain open until Dec. 1.

(Michelle Kuo)

The book measures 39-by-26 inches and includes paintings of at least 100 bird species Audubon discovered during a 12-year exhibition he took starting in 1826 to illustrative every native bird species in North America.

During his bird-exploring journey, Audubon painted a few species that would eventually become extinct, including the Whooping Crane and passenger pigeons, according to the Field Museum.