14th Annual Smithsonian.com Photo Contest
Alaska Brown Bears in The Hall of North American Mammals
Museum exhibits may be going "high-tech", but nothing can match the enduring magic, romance, and majesty of the dioramas in the Hall of North American Mammals, which opened in 1942 at the American Museum of Natural History. These exhibits-- which were restored in the past few years-- combine the art of taxidermy with the art of painting, for a one-of-a-kind experience in this quiet cathedral of "America the Beautiful". When the calmly terrifying, regal Alaska Brown Bear towers over you, you get an overpowering sense of his immensity and are immersed in his world in a way that nothing else-- short of putting yourself in actual danger-- could allow. These "stuffed" museum creatures no longer breathe the air or roam free, but have inspired millions to preserve the lives and habitats of America's iconic mammals, today and for all time. Like the Smithsonian's great museums, the American Museum of Natural History in New York, founded in 1869, has many modern exhibits on the cutting edge of what's new and exciting. But I hope that these old dioramas, traditional works of art which depict distinctly American wildlife and landscapes, and remain the essence of the Museum's appeal, are never put in mothballs.
© Staton Rabin.
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||The American Experience
||July 23, 2016, 1:06 p.m.
||Canon EOS 5D Mark III