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The Future of Natural History Museum Exhibits?

Discussion in 'Websites about Zoos & Animal Conservation' started by Sarus Crane, 13 Jun 2021.

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Do you think these kinds of displays can come back with digital components?

  1. Yes

    5 vote(s)
    45.5%
  2. No

    6 vote(s)
    54.5%
  1. Sarus Crane

    Sarus Crane Well-Known Member 5+ year member

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    I really enjoy natural history museums and the old school exhibits within them specifically the wildlife mounts whether in dioramas or not. I think animal mounts can continue to educate visitors in museums because for those of us who have seen specimens up close in person in a museum or in a zoo it's much better than via a computer or TV screen. With today's trends of making everything virtual or heavily digitized do you think that mounts can continue to play a central role within natural history museums?

    Given that today so many people can look up animals online and see how they live in their natural habitats will dioramas ever be built again? I know they are costly to build, require a painstaking amount of hours to research, go out and collect habitat accessories for and find a suitable painter. The most recent example in a very long time was the Striped Hyena diorama at the Field Museum. I personally am a fan of the old school large square case with the naturalistic foreground with several mounts in them with such examples as the Field Museum, Smithsonian, etc.... because you still have the specimen mounts with some recreated part of their natural habitat while being able to view the animals from multiple sides, unlike a diorama where you can only look at the specimens from only one side of the exhibit. If these came back I would assume that zoos could donate specimens of species wanted by museums after their deaths and add a digital component to make them more interactive and appealing for visitors.

    Teddy Roosevelt's Lions at Smithsonian's NMNH (no longer on exhibit):
    [​IMG]

    Mountain Nyalas & Dibatags at the Field Museum:
    [​IMG]
     
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  2. CarLover

    CarLover Well-Known Member 5+ year member

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    I love taxidermy specimens. I have also seen recently with Blue Rhino Studios they are making animals that look like taxidermy but everything is completely composite. I don't know about all the virtual reality stuff. I like dioramas as they are.
     
  3. TinoPup

    TinoPup Well-Known Member 5+ year member

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    I don't like digital stuff at all. Any time I go to a zoo with digital signs, there's always at least one that isn't working. You have to wait for other people to move on to look at some screens, wait for it to scroll forward, etc. Natural History museums would have the same issues, having to keep up with the technology, hiring people who solely work on that sort of thing. I think with covid happening, places are going to stop pushing so heavily for interactive things, as well.
     
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  4. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    I like the old school taxidermy dioramas like those seen at the AMNH and I would like to see natural history museums continue to present specimens within recreations of their natural habitat.

    That said, I agree with you that the large square case dioramas with naturalistic foregrounds probably allow for more visitor engagement in terms of seeing the specimens from all angles.

    I've noticed that there has been a lot of renewed interest in taxidermy in popular culture in recent years so I would hope that this isn't just an "edgy hipster" fad but something more enduring so I think there is potential for dioramas to make a come back at museums.

    However, the greatest problem I see with bringing dioramas back at museums probably come from the institutions themselves.

    I imagine natural history museums have concerns with finding funding (the funding for the striped hyena diorama at the field museum was largely crowd-sourced) and worries about the value of these types of presentations of nature (worries that these are "colonial" displays and that these are not modern enough).

    I voted "yes" in this poll as I really like your idea of combining old school dioramas with interactive screen displays and think that this would be of great educational value.
     
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  5. Jurek7

    Jurek7 Well-Known Member 15+ year member

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    The problem with digital displays is that real and digital mixes very badly. New aquarium in Lausanne has lots of digital displays, including one in the main rainforest exhibit. So in the middle of vegetation, you see an oversized guy on a screen gesticulating and talking in French. It just does not work.

    The same with Monterey Bay Aquarium. One tank has real jellyfish, next is a screen of oversized microscopic larvae. So what is the point of showing real stuff at all? Why not throw all real displays away, and install only screens, and Monterey Bay Aquarium could display a blue whale, or a plesiosaur, or maybe a sea serpent or a mermaid?

    I find that traditional dioramas are still interesting, and they still captivate people, especially children. I saw it on my little nephew, who is totally ignoring all things digital, having a huge home cinema. But seeing a real stuff, he was fascinated.

    I also see value of museum showing authentic stuff. I told to my little nephew: look, this is a stuffed thylacine. There are only several tens of them remaining on the world. And there will never be more, until end of the world.
     
  6. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    I don't think this is always the case.

    I've seen this combination done well (albeit not with dioramas as such) at the Natural History Museum in London with some of their exhibitions.