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Eliminating taxidermy from museums

Discussion in 'The Taxidermy Industry' started by DakotahRose, Aug 27, 2015.

  1. DakotahRose

    DakotahRose Member

    This article surfaced recently and angered and saddened me. The authors logic involved replacing mounts with photography and videography... there's a lot of concerns I have with this (especially since the author apparently works at a museum) but my main retort is if taxidermy is unecessary because we could have photos instead, well then dinosaur bones and mummies, and any other exhibit could just be photos as well abd if that's the case why would anyone choose to visit a museum when their museum visit could be the equivalent of sitting behind a computer screen. Nothing beats seeing things in person...

  2. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    This is just a POS bunny hugger trying to convince himself that his lies are facts. I commented on it, but I seriously doubt it would ever be posted.

  3. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    Here's what I wrote:

    Sorry, this is another rose colored glass, knee jerk reaction. How about your #1. Let’s start giving our wives pictures of diamond rings, let’s give the pictures videos of what an Xbox looks like. This is the same idiotic notion that led the current crew to burn tons of ivory to thwart the worldwide black market of it. Just for a milisecond, think about that logic. We have to destroy it to protect it????? Really??? All it did was remove what might have glutted that market and created a vacuum that poachers simple were overjoyed to hear. Your #2 is simply a lie and a fancy dream on your part. Hunter numbers are increasing in America with women being the main factor. “Trophy hunting” is the same as your “gas guzzling SUV” buzz words. When animals have value to hunters, ALL WILDLIFE enjoys the benefits. Whitetail, pronghorn, bison, and wild turkey were decimated until hunters stepped in, imposed licenses, seasons and even taxes to pay for habitat renewal. That habitat allowed mice, voles, song birds, foxes, and eagles to prosper. #3 is nothing more than a scare tactic. Arsenic SOAP was used decades ago, but it’s not something one can contract through breathing the air or touching the skin. Arsenic is a heavy metal that would need some serious contact, ingestion, and consumption to pose a real hazzard. You’re more likely to be contaminated with asbestos than arsenic. #4 is simply political correctness. How did you get those shrimp at Red Lobster or how was this steak obtain at Texas Roadhouse? Get a grip. #5 is cute. Imagine if we looked at all the people coming through the doors of the museum. Think your description would fit with them as well. Is your next justification to eliminate all zoos? Sure sounds that way. Finally, #6 is just one more anthropocentric grasp at reality. No one wants to see people in nursing homes or asylums. Many people aschew hospital visits as they’d rather not see the down side of life. All of us think that obituaries need to contain pictures of the person at the peak of their health and as vibrant as they always were. I understand this is your post and you can tell any lies that make you feel better. Some of us don’t have to digest them, however.
  4. cyclone

    cyclone Posts: 400001

    Your reply is posted there, well at least for now George..
  5. tomdes

    tomdes Me my dear and Fall BAZZ!!!

    George, good post, I see he totally avoided commenting on your post. I guess you kind of perplexed him.
  6. R.J. Meyer II

    R.J. Meyer II Member

    Very well written George.
  7. DakotahRose

    DakotahRose Member

    I would love to see him address your comment george...
  8. George,
    Prior to our departure from Alaska earlier this summer I took my wife and 2 daughters to Denali National Park. I was looking foreward to my family seeing some of the diorama's that amazed me at 12 years old the first time i visited Alaska in the early 80's. There was not one single taxidermy mount to be seen in the visitor center. There were a few wall hanger pelts that were in great disrepair but all of the life-size representations were fiberglass and plastic. I was horrified. I asked the staff and they had no explanation and a few even looked at me as if i had 2 heads. Where have we gone wrong.
  9. boarhunter67

    boarhunter67 Well-Known Member

    Why have works of art (paintings and statues) in a museum. Why not just pictures of them?
  10. DL

    DL Well-Known Member

    Speaking of museums. Something that's always stuck in my craw is how can people be anti hunting and support museums. A normal museum will have thousands of animals neatly stacked in drawers. Songbirds, oh yeah we got um all by the dozens. I talked to a girl from a museum that had just got back from collecting 250 some odd specimens. Killed and stuffed with cotton and put in a drawer. Kind of shocking to see some rare species of animal packed in drawers by the dozens.
  11. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member

    I'd like to see the bad taxidermy I see in some museums replaced with good taxidermy!
  12. PA

    PA Well-Known Member

    Thank You DakotahRose for bringing this post to our attention. It is vigilance form all sorts of taxidermists who gives us a chance at keeping the art of taxidermy in the forefront of the public. Many on this site don't understand your "ethics" but should value your post against his views, as well as that of George and anyone else who comments. I posted my views on his site a few minutes ago and like George will post what I sent.

    For someone who purports to understand museums and their role in society you seek very lacking in vision. One of the wealthiest industrialists who ever gave money to build a museum, Andrew Carnegie, decided that a museum was a way to bring the world to those who cannot afford to see it. Granted that was in an era when Pittsburgh was a mill town and only the very few could ever expect to even visit another city let alone go to Europe to see sculptures and painting, or visit the Dark Continent , or even sites in North America. Your audience, those that take travel trips around the world on your eco-tours, are still the elite. Of the 9 million people in the New York area, or the 3 or so million in Chicago area, only perhaps 2% have enough disposable income to travel with your elite group and probably 80% of the people never get to see the Rocky Mountains in their lifetime. The latter are the “customers” that are served by the big urban center museums. They may only visit once in their lifetime in a school trip, but I believe it gives a lasting experience for these 80%.

    Seeing REAL things in a context of their habitat allows a 3 dimensional view of a place in time complete with the vegetation and background and generally a family group or story to go along with it. Viewing a story on the National Geographic or Discovery Channel or on a YouTube video isn’t any sort of substitute for sideling up to a well done diorama and letting your mind drift. Without Taxidermy, a Natural History Museum is essentially obsolete. In your mind they would be sets of paleontological exhibits and then Marty Stouffer or Marlin Perkins’ video’s and images.

    I saw my first “Plastic animal exhibit” on a trip taking my daughter out west after she finished undergraduate work. The Badlands had a thoroughly ridiculous set of sculptures of plastic bighorns, antelope and others. Replacement of real specimens with plastic animals is no substitute for real and it looked horrible. The backgrounds were photographs blown up – not artwork which gives emotion to the piece. As others have said, why have an art museum when you can simply view paintings via the web on your 50 inch plasma television. The same goes for Eco-tours. Why pay money to go visit a place in Africa when a good documentary about Dianne Fosse on television saves you so much money and you can see close-up “Videographic” views of the animals you may barely glimpse on a real tour.

    It is hard to formulate a reasoned response when the views you publish seem totally foreign to every view I have had since I was a toddler almost 60 years ago. I suppose I could address all of your “good reasons” not to use taxidermy. The first I have addressed above.

    The second point you put forth deals with people hunting animals. Perhaps not in you, but the vast majority of outdoorsman enjoy hunting and matching their wits against wildlife in the pursuit of primarily food. 90% of the meat I eat on a yearly basis is wild caught, and having an animal live its’ life free until it is harvested in my mind is much better than cramming 100,000 chickens in a hothouse or keeping beef cattle on a cement slab.

    The memories created when a “trophy animal” is taken, which is any animal harvested, be it a spike deer or a spring turkey will be remembered best by viewing a preserved specimen. My grandfather shot a bear in 1939 and I have a photograph of him standing next to it hanging near the barn, but he had a rug made and it had been viewed thousands of time and recreated memories of the hunt. That mount and a couple deer mounted circa 1918-1920 were all the mounts he had done, but it inspired me to take up taxidermy having seen them for decades. I still have them, and they are cherished items from an era long past.

    Most conservationists began with hunting and many with taxidermy. Teddy Roosevelt was a dedicated hunter and taxidermist who preserved vast stretches of land. William T. Hornaday became a devote conservationist after being one of the leading taxidermists in the world and was instrumental through lobbying many of the wildlife laws we have today. Carl Akeley of notable fame also hunted many animals and was a famous taxidermist but was instrumental in forming the Gorilla preserve in the Congo.

    Hunting animals gives you empathy for them while at the same time trying to preserve their kind. It was hunters who brought back the Buffalo and Pronghorn and many wild animals that were threatened in the wild. Most hunted animals are not declining. Most declining wildlife are where poachers or illegal trade is dealing with animals sought for “medicinal” uses in the Far East – Rhino Horn, exotic turtles, and similar items.

    Your third point, about arsenic laced animals being put out for handling is totally incorrect. No museum puts out specimens for touching if they were preserved with arsenic or mercury compounds or any other poisonous material. Any touchable is new material that is tanned much like a fur coat, or shoe leather with hair left on. I maintain that allowing a museum patron the experience of standing next to a Bison mount, as I assume depicted in your story, and caressing the curly hair is an experience much safer than standing down the same animal in Yellowstone and then getting gored as has happened a handful of times this year. Our museum has a displayed full-size bison that has been touchable for almost 20 years now in an Indian Hall. There is a few worn spots, and at some time in the future may need to be replaced, but the mount has earned its’ cost, especially when it was an older captive animal being put down, but still fed many mouths after we removed the hide for taxidermy.

    Your fourth point concerns primarily “ethics” of collecting animals for display. Museums generally benefited from past wealthy hunters who would fund the creation of a display to hold animals they harvested. Sometimes the larger museums would go and harvest animals themselves, but in many cases the animals portrayed were hunted as you say. Virtually all were hunted “ethically” by legal means at the time and imported legally. Ethics change over time, I would certainly agree with that, but in the era most the wild animal dioramas were created, Zoos were housing lions in 15 x 20 feet cement floor cages. A zoo, even now is in many ways torturing an animal by not allowing it to live freely. Patrons of zoos see a tiger or lion that has to be replaced every 10 or 15 years and maintained, feeding it at huge cost. Contrast that to a lion mount, harvested 80 years ago, that can be seen by hundreds of thousands of visitors in a large museum every year. The exhibit the Lions of Tsavo, I would say have been viewed multiple millions of times and tell a story worth telling over to every generation. The movie probably would not have been made had the taxidermy not reminded us of that time in a certain place where lions fed on people in bulk.

    The fifth point could certainly be valid in a poorly funded museum which cannot keep up with current art in taxidermy. Current taxidermy is better than it has ever been with the various organizations getting together in conventions worldwide sharing techniques and materials in creating dynamic realistic mounting procedures. The World Show which has received unbelievable coverage has shown how far taxidermy has come in the last 40 years. Even the far liberal New York Times recognized how far taxidermists have come:

    Putting animals “out of context or juxtaposition with other animals” is probably done by museum exhibit designers and not the true outdoorsmen that the museum taxidermists are, or have been. Unfortunately, few museums now have taxidermists on staff, and in-fact, many people currently running museums never were brought up in an area where there were wild animals running around or even hunted. There is something to be gained by being raised in the country vs. being a city folk who became aware of the outdoors because of some romanticism they read about in a Thoreau novel or piece by John Muir. I saw some of this same sort of thing while working three summers in the National Park Service in the late 1970’s, and in graduate school in a big ten college. The park employees didn’t understand the web of life and were fascinated by seeing their first deer at the age of 25. A fellow graduate student working on muskrats at first couldn’t catch one even though he was working on his Ph.D. People raised in wild areas grow during their formative years becoming one with the woods or prairies or desert where they were raised.

    I don’t anticipate changing your mind in any way. Your view of taxidermy is like your personal religion, as is my view of taxidermy and its’ use in display. I will never change your views, nor you mine, but I could consciously not respond to your post. And that is MY heartfelt truth.
  13. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    Stephen, that is, without a doubt, one of the grandest pieces of writing I've seen in some time. It almost brought tears to my eyes as you explained the intrinsic and irreplaceable values of our wildlife and its heritage. Thanks for saying it on that site, but more importantly, thank you for pasting it HERE as we sometimes forget where our niche in the Great American history theater lies.
  14. pir^2h

    pir^2h Retrievers give you the bird

    I was surprised to see that George's and Stephen's posts were still on the blog. Though he failed to comment on George's post! Wonder why that is?!!! Can't argue with the facts! Well, I guess you could but....
  15. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member

    Btw did anyone get a straight answer on why mounts were required to be removed from the Gander Mountain stores? Myself and others were told to remove our mounts and were never given a reason. At least not at my local store.