Carl Akeley needs no introduction to readers of this forum. But before he became “The Father of Modern Taxidermy,” Akeley was a young taxidermist working in his private studio in Milwaukee (during and after his staff stint at the Milwaukee Public Museum). He was doing scientific work at the MPM, like the justly famous muskrat group, as commercial work in his studio on Milwaukee Ave.: hunting trophies and bird panels and fireplace screens—no surprise, typical fare for commercial taxidermists at the time—but also work that may come as surprise to those who only know his revered museum work, like monkeys driving a carriage, an owl family posing for a camera, and, essaying an ever-popular theme, a monkey shaving a cat (the scene below is not by Akeley, but an example of how it might have looked). This previously unknown aspect of Akeley’s work and more, is discussed in a new article in Journal of the History of Collections. It can be accessed at the link; it’s behind a paywall, but you can get full access by emailing one of the authors. https://academic.oup.com/jhc/advance-article-abstract/doi/10.1093/jhc/fhac022/6605186. The essay provides newly unearthed details about the decorative taxidermy and anthropomorphic groups produced by Carl Akeley while in his ‘20s, and uses that work as a springboard to explore the broader context of the rise of decorative taxidermy in the US in the late 19th century, and the influence of European taxidermy on that trend, and on U.S. museum presentation. The authors draw connections between these weird and whimsical pieces and Akeley’s later museum work, as he injected both with dynamism, warmth and even playfulness (albeit with a bizarre spin in the former, and behavioral insights in the latter). But best of all, the “rediscovery” of previously unknown early work by the master. The photo below is a detail from a taxidermy tableau of a monkey shaving a cat. Artist unknown, Bristol England, ca. 1870. From the collection of Tia Resleure. © Tia Resleure.