While visiting Canada last month I was able to visit two museums, including the Museum of Vancouver. I already mentioned the museum and the Ravishing Beasts special exhibit, but I wanted to share more about the exhibit and the catalogue.
When I discovered that one of the special exhibits was on taxidermy I wasn't expecting much, I tend to find it rather creepy. The exhibit, however, turned out to be a fascinating one.
It started with an overview of the history of taxidermy, including early museum-like displays.
Then there were step by step examples of how a model is constructed.
Then there was an area about dioramas and habitat exhibits with animals. These types of exhibits were once very common in museums but are increasingly being replaced in renewals so I really enjoyed this section, especially the video that demonstrated how one such exhibit was constructed.
Then were also a number of different animals on display - local animals, a "trophy" wall, and a few fantastical beasts.
(I convinced my friend that this particular animal was commonly found in the local area. She asked me about its habitat and diet and I was almost able to make up answers with a straight face, but then I started giggling and she realized she had been had... tee hee!)
There were some whimsical examples of how taxidermied animals were displayed.
and some less whimsical examples of modern art.
Being the museum nerd that I am, however, I loved the last section, with a display recreating how taxidermy animals are stored in museum storage. This section asked visitors their opinions on taxidermy collections and for suggestions about what should be done with these collections in the future.
A fascinating exhibit that connected into many of the things I've learnt about museum history and also made me think about the future of museums too.