Nature's Mirror: How Taxidermists Shaped America's Natural History Museums and Saved Endangered Species

Nature's Mirror: How Taxidermists Shaped America's Natural History Museums and Saved Endangered Species

by Mary Anne Andrei

Hardcover(First Edition)

View All Available Formats & Editions
Usually ships within 1 week


It may be surprising to us now, but the taxidermists who filled the museums, zoos, and aquaria of the twentieth century were also among the first to become aware of the devastating effects of careless human interaction with the natural world.
Witnessing firsthand the decimation caused by hide hunters, commercial feather collectors, whalers, big game hunters, and poachers, these museum taxidermists recognized the existential threat to critically endangered species and the urgent need to protect them. The compelling exhibits they created—as well as the scientific field work, popular writing, and lobbying they undertook—established a vital leadership role in the early conservation movement for American museums that persists to this day.
Through their individual research expeditions and collective efforts to arouse demand for environmental protections, this remarkable cohort—including William T. Hornaday, Carl E. Akeley, and several lesser-known colleagues—created our popular understanding of the animal world and its fragile habitats. For generations of museum visitors, they turned the glass of an exhibition case into a window on nature—and a mirror in which to reflect on our responsibility for its conservation.

Related collections and offers

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780226730318
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Publication date: 11/20/2020
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 264
Sales rank: 279,422
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Mary Anne Andrei is a three-time Heartland Emmy Award winner and senior producer for emerging media at NET Nebraska, the state’s PBS and NPR station. Her short film Return of the American Bison received a 2019 Heartland Emmy and her PBS Digital 360° video series Watershed won a 2020 Radio Television Digital News Association Regional Murrow Award and a 2020 Midwest Broadcast Journalists Association Eric Sevareid Award. Her photos have appeared in the Guardian, Harper’s Magazine, Mother Jones, and New Republic.

Table of Contents


1 “A Gathering Place for Amateur Naturalists”: Ward’s and the Birth of the Habitat Group
2 “Breathing New Life into Stuffed Animals”: The Society of American Taxidermists
3 “The Destruction Wrought by Man”: Smithsonian Taxidermy and the Birth of Wildlife Conservation
4 Competing Ideas, Competing Institutions: Decorative versus Scientific Taxidermy at the Carnegie and Field Museums
5 “The Duty to Conserve”: Museums and the Fight to Save Endangered Marine Mammals
6 “Brightest Africa”: Carl Akeley and the American Museum’s Race to Bring Africa to America



Customer Reviews