PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Long before the internet and television, many people learned about the world and its creatures through taxidermy animals and elaborate scenes at local natural history museums.
In Philadelphia, the oldest natural sciences institution in the Western Hemisphere is beginning extensive renovations to their historic exhibits for the first time in nearly 90 years.
Explorers would collect specimens from around the world and bring them to the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, now known as the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University.
Animal bodies were preserved through taxidermy and scenes were created to resemble their natural habitats. Now, the museum has more than 30 wildlife scenes, and restoration work is about to begin in two of the institution’s oldest and rarest exhibits, also known as dioramas.
The glass in the gorilla diorama has been removed from the first time since it was encased in the late 1930s.
“This [the gorilla diorama] was from an exhibition organized by George Vanderbilt,” said Museum Senior Fellow Bob Peck. “[Vanderbilt] wanted to organize the exhibition on behalf of the Academy of Natural Sciences.”
Painting, cleaning and lighting installation will also take place inside the takin diorama. The work is expected to take place over the next couple months.