“A History of Taxidermy,” Observatory Presents at the Wagner Free Institute, Philadelphia

Images from the Wagner collection

Images from the Wagner collection

An Illustrated Presentation By Dr. Pat Morris, Royal Holloway, University of London
Date: Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Time: 5:30 PM (Museum on view from 4-7 PM for event)
Admission: Free
LOCATION: * Wagner Free Institute, Philadelphia

Please Note: This special Observatory Presents event will be held NOT be at Observatory, but instead at the incredible untouched 19th century lecture hall of one of our favorite museums, Philadelphia’s Wagner Free Institute. For more, including directions, click here.

What makes taxidermy so interesting? Whether encountering thousands of specimens in a museum, or just a few in a hunter’s trophy collection, viewing taxidermy can be captivating. Dr. Pat Morris will explain his theories about why people find the display of mounted animals to be so fascinating. Dr. Morris is a leading British mammal ecologist who has been researching the history of taxidermy as a lifelong hobby. He has travelled throughout Europe and the USA seeking out interesting taxidermy specimens and stories.

His presentation will consider taxidermy from its roots as a business in the 19th century, reviewing the history of preserved animals, and attempts to find the oldest surviving specimens. Dr. Morris will also explore the diverse and amusing uses of taxidermy - including major museum exhibits, stuffed pets, hunting trophies, animal furniture, and squirrels playing cards. His lecture will also discuss changing public attitudes toward taxidermy.

Dr. Pat Morris will speak in the Institute’s historic lecture hall at 5:30. The museum will stay open late (4 - 7 PM) for this event.

In conjuction with the lecture there will be an exhibition in the Wagner’s museum of work created by Animal Sculpture students from the Samuel S. Fleisher Art Memorial.

Dr. Pat Morris retired from Royal Holloway, University of London in 2002 where he was a Senior Lecturer in Zoology and oversaw research on mammal ecology. He has published many books and scientific papers and has been featured regularly in radio and TV broadcasts. The history of taxidermy has been a lifelong interest. He has travelled widely, with his wife Mary, seeking interesting taxidermy specimens and stories. Their home in England holds the largest collection and archive of historical taxidermy in Britain.

* * * Pat Morris will also be speaking on Thursday, April 15 at the Coney Island Museum as part of the Congress for Curious People, co-organized by Observatory and The Coney Island Museum. Stay tuned for details on this lecture soon.

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