Bell Museum celebrates 75th anniversary of federal duck stamp

Each year, people hunting migratory fowl must purchase a âÄúduck stampâÄù as a hunting license. The duck stamp, however, is also an annual national art competition, and its 75th anniversary falls this year. In recognition, the Bell Museum of Natural History will begin an exhibit Tuesday highlighting past Minnesota winners. Fifteen Minnesota artists with 23 collective winning stamps will have their work displayed. Minnesota has produced more winning artists than any other state. For the Bell Museum exhibit, curator Don Luce said the staff was able to get original pieces of art from 11 of the artists, rather than prints. The 2008 winner, Joseph Hautman , a University alumnus from Plymouth, Minn., will speak at the opening reception. This is HautmanâÄôs third federal duck stamp victory, as he also won in 1992 and 2002. HautmanâÄôs two brothers have also been multiple winners of the competition. The Hautman brothers were called a “dynasty” by the Washington Post. TheyâÄôve created eight winning designs over the past two decades. For his winning 2008 entry, Hautman depicted a pair of northern pintails, a native Minnesota bird. Each year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service offers artists the chance to choose from a list of four to five ducks to use in their art work, Hautman said. Luce said the species of duck is rotated for the contest so the same duck doesnâÄôt keep showing up year after year. The annual contest is the only federally sponsored art competition in the U.S., with proceeds going to wildlife land preservation. Ninety-eight cents of each dollar spent goes to the National Wildlife Refuge System , according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Since the beginning of the program, more than $700 million has been raised to protect wetlands. A lot of the money comes from wildlife art collectors, Luce said, not hunters. Collectors spend upwards of hundreds of dollars to get the framed pieces of art with the stamp included, Luce said. Currently, the price for a Federal Duck Stamp is $15. When the program began in 1934, stamps cost $1. The display at the Bell Museum runs through Jan. 4 , and is part of a larger exhibit of wildlife art. Included in the exhibit are paintings, sketches, engravings, photographs and more than 15 hand-carved wooden decoys.