Stuffed Animals — Museum Of Natural History

Museum of Natural History Long before technology could show us the world through the eyes of meerkats and marching penguins, people had a passionate interest in the natural world. Victorians with disposable income were mad about collecting flora and fauna, filling their homes with specimens from foreign lands. To see what that might have looked like, check out the ‘Victorian Parlor’ exhibit on the second floor of our own Natural History Museum and Planetarium in Roger Williams Park. Not everything in the parlor is dead and stuffed — that’s a functioning beehive next to the window. The museum itself is now an artifact of times gone by and should be preserved as such. (A bizarre Age of Aquarius mural project — above your head as you walk in, and up the staircase — took place in the 60’s, with decidedly mixed results. They should probably go.)

Remember to check out ‘Curioser: New Encounters with the Victorian Natural History Collection’ an art installation curated by Erik Carlson and Erica Carpenter, up through September. Six lucky artists were let loose in the vaults to cull pieces from all the cabinets, boxes, drawers and crates of stuff. (Pictures from show after the jump.)

Curiouser was created with the goal of giving the public a glimpse into the Museum’s vast vaulted collections. The idea is not to show these seldom-seen items as arcane specimens, but rather as vivid evidence of a time when people were perhaps curiouser than we are today. Curiouser will free the Museum’s antique collections from the strict imperatives of science and analysis, releasing them “down the rabbit‐hole” of artistic production. Artists’ works incorporate actual pieces from the Museum’s vast Victorian collections of insects, shells, fossils, bird skins, plants and taxidermied mammals.

Museum is open 7 days a week, 10am to 5pm (last admission 4:30pm), directions

Erik Gould approached this as a photographer and occasionally stops in to change the exposed paper in his installation — Extinction. He is employed as the museum photographer over at the RISD Museum of Art.

Erik Gould

Bird skins caught the eye of Lasse Antonsen in Describing the Shadows.

bird skins

4 thoughts on “Stuffed Animals — Museum Of Natural History”

  1. The Museum offers public vault tours once a year, usually during the February or April RI public school vacations. The cost is $5.00, and includes museum admission.

  2. Annie Messier

    I went to the opening of “Curiouser” in early November and loved the whole museum, which in 4+ years in Rhode Island I’d never visited. It had a great mix of new and old and was a real bargain for just $2. Our friends had to pull us away from the observation hive; could have stayed there all day. I’ve heard about what Peter mentions–occasional access to additional pieces in the storage areas–but I recall it being pricey, around $25. I bet it’s worth it and will keep my eyes peeled for the opportunity.

  3. This is a great asset that is under used. I’ve been in the storage areas and there is some awesome stuff unseen. This place needs to be marketed more and collections developed. Not to mention a beautiful building.

  4. I’ve never been to this museum, but have driven/walked by. Its a beautiful on the outside, we’re very lucky.

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