[email protected]: Jay Kirk on History’s Greatest Taxidermist


On Tuesday, May 1, 2012, we welcomed author Jay Kirk for a live interview and informal conversation inspired by his book, Kingdom Under Glass, which recently came out in paperback.

In Kingdom Under Glass, Kirk tells the story of Carl Akeley, history’s greatest taxidermist, and his epic adventures stalking and preserving elephants, baboons, and gorillas for the American Museum of Natural History’s legendary dioramas. In our live interview, we discussed Akeley’s artistic and technical innovations in diorama design, as well as his brutal collecting expeditions in the Congo that ended up being nearly as lethal for the humans involved as for the animals Akeley was seeking to preserve.
Most interestingly, and building on our recent conversation with George Dante of Wildlife Preservations (which can also be seen on our Vimeo page), we talked with Kirk about the way in which Akeley (along with his equally taxidermy-obsessed wife) stage-managed an entirely new idea of nature, as the world’s last great wildernesses disappeared.


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