How do I clean very old animal mount?

Submitted by Peg in Seattle on 3/29/06 at 5:00 PM. ( )

I work for a century-old museum/curio shop which displays a number of very old (1901-1940) animal mounts of various kinds: monkeys, tigers, coyotes, moose heads. They are seldom dusted, so the dust gets really crusty and horrid. I know professional cleaning is the best, but we cannot afford such a thing. Can you point me towards finding out how best to clean and preserve such old mounts? Some are quite fragile. Thanks!

P.S. I posted a question on cleaning bird mounts, as well, in the birds section. They are also filthy.

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This response submitted by michael p on 3/29/06 at 11:38 PM. ( )

if you could afford the mounts you could afford to have them proffesionally cleaned! what's the deal here, are you working for a /museum or headed to the round top antiques show this weekend? (the word curio set off bells)if you wanna make money clean the damn thing, if you are truly(i'll make a wager you're not) a museum then get your state funding dollars and use them properly.

re. duck cleaning, sailfish cleaning. etc., etc., etc.!


This response submitted by PA on 3/30/06 at 9:41 AM. ( )

Nature centers and old museums routinely get old taxidermy dumped upon them, and some director/office person accepts them, when they probably should have gone to a dumpster. While they are important to show the historic aspects of taxidermy, they are often poor mounts and show amateurish attempts. I am beginning to believe this IS the way they should be displayed - dirty and grundgy. Cleaning them will not make them better mounts. Also, money unfortunately does not grow on trees, and survival of almost every small Museum in the US is a very tentative thing.

taxidermy magic / cowboy magic

This response submitted by Don's Taxidermy and Freeze Drying on 3/30/06 at 10:30 AM. ( )

you can find a new product, Taxidermy Magic in most of the suply catalogs, Cowboy magic is the same product I get it at Farm and Fleat for about $3.00 cheaper. It works great for cleaning old mounts. Don

Thanks for your help...

This response submitted by Peg in Seattle on 3/30/06 at 9:58 PM. ( )

Thanks to those who took the time to give me some real help managing our mangy mounts. I am amazed at the artistry of modern mounts... taxidermists of today seem to have such a genuine feel for the living animal, I almost expect their work to breathe. Nevertheless, I can't help but have respect for the old guys, who labored with wire and wood and no refrigeration and did the best they could. So I'll clean our hokey mongoose with the cobra wrapped around it like a winter scarf... We've had it since 1901, so it's like a family heirloom. And all the other sad critters. Think of it this way: it makes people appreciate the taxidermists of today!

cleaning old mounts

This response submitted by Aaron Honeycutt on 3/30/06 at 10:07 PM. ( mhoneyATmindspringDOTcom )

Peg, When you are dealing with mounts going back into the early 20th century you are dealing with arsinic poisoned skins and should be very careful for safety's sake. I would do any real cleaning outside if possible to avoid breathing in any dust from them. Start with careful brushing or compressed air to remove the surface dust. If hair is very loose and falling out in quantity on a mount you may not be able to do anything much with it but if the hair is holdig pretty well you can clean the hair with windex. Most surface dirt will wash away with windex and it will not do damage to the hair. Paints might wash off so be prepared to repaint or touch up as needed. Very old skins might come apart if you soak the skin itself so avoid shampoos on mounts this old unless you determine them to be in stable sturdy condition.

For feathers I would dust and follow with a soft paint brush sprayed with windex to lightly wash the feathers. If feathers start to look wet dry with hair dryer gently.

Understand that there is always some risk in cleaning any old mount and if you try anything that I mentioned and things fall apart...well, don't blame me. Good luck-Aaron H.

once they are cleaned put them in a display case

This response submitted by phil on 4/2/06 at 9:44 PM. ( )

I know it is very time consuming and expensive to get mounts clean but once you do if you put them in a display case they will be 90% cleaner than not in one. Just a suggestion I learned the hard way. If you would like to see some of my cases go to click on glass cases

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