Honoring John A. Ruthven
John was a wonderful friend and a remarkable man, full of kindness, humor and warmth. He was deeply dedicated to his family and had an enthusiasm for supporting his local and global community.
John was also an undeniably great artist – truly a 20th century Audubon – and a marvelous storyteller and always a teacher. We will always be most captivated by the person he was.
John's daughter described him this way: "My father was a gentleman, a patriot and a friend to everyone who met him. To our family, he was a proud father, grandfather and great-grandfather."
Ruthven was just 10 years old when he donated his first specimen to CMC – a hummingbird. It was the first of many. Over the next 86 years, Ruthven helped bring thousands of specimens into CMC’s collections, building a rich and robust natural catalog by which scientists and historians can learn more about our region and the natural and wild spaces around the globe.
CMC’s collections served as a great resource for Ruthven as he used the ornithology and zoology collections as references for his paintings. He, in turn, encouraged a greater emphasis for the museum to engage in scientific research, contributing its own findings to the scientific community He joined museum-organized scientific expeditions to the Philippines and to Arkansas and Florida searching for species believed to be extinct.
As a man and as an artist, John’s legacy looms large. We are dedicated to doing our part to ensure his legacy long endures.
Cincinnati Museum Center honored Ruthven in 2019 with the inaugural John A. Ruthven Medal of Distinction. The medal is inspired by Ruthven’s lifetime of exploration, preservation and advocacy and will be awarded to individuals who contribute to the fields of natural history and science and also to CMC’s collections and research programs. Part of the criteria for the award is that its recipients further the preservation, research and advocacy of natural history in the Greater Cincinnati area. The medal is one way we are carrying Ruthven’s legacy into the future.
Cincinnati Museum Center is proud to publish the biography John A. Ruthven: An American Treasure.
Written by Jerome Alan Jackson and Bette Jean Schardien Jackson, edited by Anita Buck and designed by Orange Frazer Press.
This biography is available for purchase at Cincinnati Museum Center's gift shop or by calling (513) 287-7000.