Skip to main content

Tactile Taxidermy: The Revival of Animal Skins in the Early Twentieth Century Museum

Buy Article:

$21.43 + tax (Refund Policy)

Taxidermy specimens are cloaked in animal skin; organic material that can decay or be eaten by insects. This essay examines the tactile relationship between this changeable skin-creature, and the figures of the taxidermist and the natural history curator in the turn of the twentieth century museum. Using Bristol Museum as a case study, it argues that specimens were not inert or stilled within museum collections. It explores how taxidermy specimens were meeting places between animal remains and human bodies, as natural history curators sought to remount existing specimens, and prevent them from deteriorating further. Taking a material approach, it examines how animal skins were physically shaped by human hands, and figuratively woven into stories of science, the British Empire and the natural world.

Keywords: animals; decay; museums; taxidermy; touch

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2023

This article was made available online on December 11, 2020 as a Fast Track article with title: "Tactile Taxidermy: The Revival of Animal Skins in the Early Twentieth Century Museum".

More about this publication?
  • Environment and History is an interdisciplinary journal which aims to bring scholars in the humanities and biological sciences closer together, with the deliberate intention of constructing long and well-founded perspectives on present day environmental problems.

    Environment and History has a Journal Impact Factor (2021) of 0.925. 5 Year Impact Factor: 0.902.
  • Information for Authors
  • Submit a Paper
  • Subscribe to this Title
  • Membership Information
  • Ingenta Connect is not responsible for the content or availability of external websites
  • Access Key
  • Free content
  • Partial Free content
  • New content
  • Open access content
  • Partial Open access content
  • Subscribed content
  • Partial Subscribed content
  • Free trial content