Taxidermy evolved out of the tanning trade, whose practitioners preserved the skins of animals for use as clothing and blankets. In the early part of the 19th century, some of the first so-called trophy animals were crudely stuffed with scraps of fabric by upholsterers. Later in the Victorian Era, the art of taxidermy as we know it today evolved, pioneered by, among others, Carl Akeley, who worked at the Milwaukee Public Museum, the Field Museum in Chicago, and the American Museum of Natural History in New York.
Although Akeley was one of the leading innovators of taxidermy, excelling in the realistic mounting of mammals, later in his life he would reject the practice of bagging animals such as gorillas just so they could decorate a museum diorama, let alone a hunter's study. By the end of his life, Akeley had devoted himself to protecting these creatures—Africa's first national park was established in 1925 in no small part due his efforts.
Today, collectors of taxidermy have a range of animals and pieces to choose from. Gameheads are perhaps the most well known form of taxidermy. These include zebras, kudu, and other African animals whose heads are attached to pedestals that are designed to hang on a wall.
In the United States, the practice of mounting deer heads is very common, especially if it's a buck with a full rack of antlers. Complete animals known as full mounts tend to be of smaller species such as bobcats and fox, as well as skunks and raccoons.
Mounted fish is another popular taxidermy type. Birds from peacocks to pheasants to roosters mount well, too, as do quail and falcons.
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Recent News: Taxidermy
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Milwaukee Public Museum's taxidermist has eye for detailMilwaukee Journal Sentinel, March 9th
The Milwaukee Public Museum's taxidermist turns pelts, skins, feathers and fur into leaping, crouching, prancing, regal animals so lifelike they could make a living lion or bear salivate and think of dinner. Christensen is creating two horses for the...Read more
Bike seat/taxidermy sculpturesBoing Boing, March 5th
Canadian artist Clem Chen produced a pair of lovely grotesque sculptures by combining bicycle seats with taxidermy, presently on display at the Hot Art Wet City Gallery in Vancouver. Appropriately titled, 'bite it' and 'pink eye' the customized...Read more
clem chen inserts taxidermy molds into bike seat sculpturesDesignboom, March 4th
listed as a finalist for a recent designboom competition, the 'ASIA AWARDS 2013? conducted in collaboration with DA – japan design association NPO, the 'bike seat sculptures' by canadian designer clem chen transform the recycled bicycle pieces into ...Read more
Wyoming wardens oppose taxidermy paperwork changesCt Post, March 3rd
CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — Wyoming game wardens are opposing a bill that would relax paperwork requirements for taxidermists. Under the bill, taxidermists would no longer have to require hunters to fill out affidavits describing their animals and where and ...Read more
Taxidermy bill would eliminate interstate game tags, affidavitsCasper Star-Tribune Online, March 2nd
Taxidermists keep nearly identical information as part of their regular record-keeping as business owners, said Rusty Bell, a Gillette taxidermist and treasurer of the Wyoming Association of Taxidermy Artists, which has worked with the Wyoming Game and ...Read more
Taxidermy instructor eschews law school to travel country teachingDo Savannah, February 27th
It was a taxidermy class taking place at Graveface Records & Curiosities in the Starland District where Kwapis, an Ohio-based licensed taxidermist, hosted a workshop that was nothing like Build-a-Bear. There was little guts or blood, aside from the bit...Read more
From recycled roadkill to stuffed squirrels, taxidermy transforms animals into artCharleston City Paper, February 26th
A New Jersey resident, Witham is among a very exclusive and miniscule sorority of women certified in the art of taxidermy. The nylon bag in her trunk that would fill Dexter with envy (gloves, ropes, disinfectant, pliers) was gifted to her by her father...Read more
Whimsical taxidermy catches on in BaltimoreBaltimore Sun, February 19th
After decades of being relegated to man caves and hunting lodges, taxidermy is hip. Three television shows delve into the art of preserving animals, and its practitioners, who are, as you might imagine, a quirky lot. There are national taxidermy...Read more