I want to pick on how the FT can reveal our innate desire for belief and how the display can shape our cultural assumptions and expectations.
Henry Rousseau’s best-known paintings depict jungle scenes weren’t inspired by any firsthand experiences of such locales (the artist reportedly never left France), but by frequent trips to the Paris botanical gardens and museums.
Stories spread that his army service included the French expeditionary force to Mexico. which were much later disproved.
I’m also learning more and more about these dioramas…. their role in our understanding of the world beyond our immediate environment.
“Individual dioramas often took years to complete, as scientists and artists physically traveled to each place to take photographs, render sketches and collect zoological and biological specimens, sometimes staying for months at a time. Each plant and animal then had to be shipped back to New York City and artificially recreated for display.”
- Freaky -The Hall of African Mammals is actually named for Akeley, who replaced the old method of stuffing animals with the more realistic technique of affixing their skin and features to an accurately measured mold of their musculature. The revolutionary approach became the difference between a shoddy-looking lion and one that seems real enough to kill you.
EXTRA FREAKY The rugged outdoorsman was also notoriously cavalier in his quest to obtain certain animals, like the time when he killed a leopard with his bare hands after it tried to eat him. Akeley actually jammed his fist down the leopard’s throat to gag it, then fatally body-slammed it on the Sahara floor. Today the beast’s skin can still be found in the museum’s library.