About the Exhibit

About the Exhibit

About the Exhibit

Taxidermy: Head to Toe

Taxidermy Head to Toe
Taxidermy: Head to Toe
taxidermist working on the Orangutan facial structure in clay

To capture the unique face of this orangutan, taxidermists built the facial structure with clay, using the death mask and other measurements as references.

Orangutan clay maquette

Sculpting this clay maquette helped the team envision the pose in 3-D and plan the life-size model.

completed Orangutan

After days of prepping the hair, the orangutan is finally finished. Look for it in the “Primates” case, towards the back of the hall.

table of supporting structures such as yes, ears, tongues
photo credits

The Supporting Cast

The secret to a lifelike mount is in finding just the right supporting structure and parts—from the perfect eyeball to an accurate head shape. This selection of commercially available glass and plastic eyes, ears, and tongues and plaster death casts of mammal features represent some of the products and processes that the taxidermists used to create the mounts.

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Carl Hansen
Paul Rhymer
Heather Rostker

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2006 Smithsonian Institution