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RTPI Remembers Eric Berg

Posted on Jun 4, 2020

RTPI Remembers Eric Berg
by Arthur Pearson, CEO

Roger Tory Peterson loved penguins, his “favorite family of birds.” He traveled the world to see them – to Patagonia, the Galapagos Islands and to Antarctica, where he endured blizzards and sub-zero temperatures to catch his first glimpse of King and Emperor Penguins.

For many years, visitors to the Roger Tory Peterson Institute had a much easier time meeting their first Emperor Penguins. A mother and her adorable chick. Life-sized. Big enough to hug, which is exactly what kids were encouraged to do. Thanks to sculptor Eric Berg.

Emperor Penguins sculpture by Eric Berg


Eric passed away this past April, but his artwork lives on in museums, private collections and public spaces all across the country. A sea lion at the Ronald McDonald House in Camden, New Jersey. A Florida Panther for Everglades National Park. Prairie Dogs at the Smithsonian Institute National Zoological Garden. The Drexel Dragon in Philadelphia. Bison. Sea Turtles. Polar bears. Grizzly bears. Giant Pandas. The list goes on and on.

Green Sea Turtle sculpture by Eric Berg, Camden Aquarium


Like Roger, Eric discovered his love of nature at a young age. He was 7 or 8 years old when he discovered a book about animals that “opened his eyes to another world.” Nonetheless, he went on to receive an economics degree from the Wharton School before giving himself over to his true calling. After receiving a master’s in fine arts from the University of Pennsylvania, he bounced back and forth between animal sculptures and geometric abstract sculptures before focusing primarily on animals.

Eric Berg with Great Gray Owl sculpture which can be seen at the Agnes Irwin School in Rosemont, PA. Photo used by permission of Eric’s family.

According to his son, Jesse, Eric was most proud of his public work, “because he loved the access it gave children to nature and the natural world. He considered it the highest compliment when a bird would land on one of his sculptures.”

Eric lived and worked in Philadelphia, but he had deep ties to Chautauqua County, where he maintained a summer studio in the Chautauqua Gorge for more than fifty years. He exhibited work at both RTPI and the Chautauqua Institution.

Among birders, Roger Tory Peterson was known as King Penguin. For all the beauty and joy Eric Berg brought to us at RTPI, we’ll forever think of him as our Emperor Penguin and our friend.

For more information about Eric’s artwork: http://www.bergbronze.com/ and https://somervillemanning.com/artists/eric-berg/