As Slate pointed out, the internet loves crappytaxidermy. While we may not have much to contribute to that illustrious canon, we do know taxidermy. Our video "Modeling Animals in Habitat Dioramas" about how artists create the animal sculptures for the Museum’s famous habitat dioramas, shows what it takes to create a meticulously accurate specimen.
If anyone was born to work at the American Museum of Natural History, it is Stephen C. Quinn, who retired this spring after 39 years as an artist in the Department of Exhibition. (As family folklore has it, 4-year-old Steve pointed to the elephants in the Akeley Hall of African Mammals during one visit and announced, “This is where I want to work!”)
This past weekend, Quinn was honored with the Garden State Taxidermists Association’s Hansen-Schneider Lifetime Achievement Award, for his long, productive career and for encouraging many young people in the Museum arts of painting, sculpture, taxidermy, and more.
Read more about Quinn’s incredible career here.
© AMNH/D. Finnin
It’s Tuesday’s peek into the archives!
Taxidermist George Adams constructs the foundation for a Moa bird model, June 1951.
© AMNH Library/2A2584
Originally created back in 1941, two cougars in our Bernard Family Hall of North American Mammals were missing an essential feature. Over the years, they’d lost their whiskers—called vibrissae—that may help cats navigate and track prey into small spaces. So conservators and taxidermists looked long and hard for a replacement material.
How did Museum taxidermists and artists create true-to-life specimens for our habitat dioramas, including the evocative cougar (mountain lion) diorama pictured here?
Artist Stephen C. Quinn explains the multi-step process in this video.
Image (c) AMNH/C. Chesek
Young Theodore Roosevelt loved studying nature, particularly birds. As a teen, he was able to identify most bird species in the northeastern U.S. by their song, flight pattern, courtship behavior, and plumage.
He collected and mounted this Snowy Owl near Oyster Bay, Long Island in 1876, the same year he entered Harvard. It will return to public view when the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Hall reopens on October 27.
© AMNH/C. Chesek
To create the lifelike moments in the Museum’s dioramas, artisans made meticulously accurate animal sculptures following a method developed by legendary explorer and taxidermist Carl Akeley. Artist Stephen C. Quinn explains how in this video.
Photo © AMNH/D. Finnin