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A treasury of around a million organisms

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The beauty and diversity of the animal world - taxidermists, Museum Wiesbaden (Part 1)

There is a preconceived notion that art is for the elite, and natural history is for the people. The Museum Wiesbaden, however, intertwines the two. The depiction of nature is cultivated in the exhibition of paintings; the natural history exhibits present themselves in wonderful colour families, like works of art. "We make the beauty and diversity of the animal world visible," Felix Richter explains. As taxidermists at the Museum Wiesbaden, he and Malte Seehausen bring this special house style to life. The museum is able to draw on around one million organisms - including insects - when it updates the natural history exhibition or shows selected animals in special exhibitions.

More than 80 per cent of the treasury of animal exhibits are carefully packed away in the museum's storeroom. From brown bears and desert foxes to numerous bird species and reptiles, the exhibits wait to be unpacked for one of the next exhibitions, when they will once again find a space on the upper floors of the museum. The Richter/Seehausen team of course give each specimen a proper "sprucing up" when it’s to be shown again after its Sleeping Beauty slumber.

This cultural property has to be looked after - after all, everything organic will deteriorate. "In the past, a lot of poisons were used to preserve the animals," Richter explains. "Today, for health reasons alone, we work with other means." Some old techniques, such as wrapping the carcass in wood wool, are no longer really employed. Instead, there are artificial animal bodies made from PU foam. Malte Seehausen used one of these when he prepared the old wolf from the Wiesbaden Fasanerie animal park. The animal, which many of the Fasanerie’s visitors still know as the leader of the pack, but which died a few years ago of old age, still looks imposing as a preserved specimen. Seehausen immortalised him in a lifelike pose and chose impressive eyes for him - there’s a large selection in the taxidermists' workshop.

Next article in the series:
The beauty and diversity of the animal world - taxidermists, Museum Wiesbaden (Part 2)

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Published on 21.03.2017

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