My last post on the inflatable skins in James Lomax’s Untitled (Me and My Friend) (2011) reminded me of this ridiculously interesting series of photographs from the archives of the American Museum of Natural History. Taken between 1933-1935 by Thane L. Bierwert, they show museum staff engaged in the task of cleaning and re-mounting the skin of an elephant for display. As well as offering a great (and I suspect rare) behind-the-scenes glance of a 1930s natural history museum, that deflated elephant body is also a powerful and unsettling image of our strange relationship to death and display.
// Images via the online research library of the American Natural History Museum. More images of elephants in the archive can be found here.
Elsewhere on the Museum of Ridiculously Interesting Things:
- James Lomax’s inflatable skins
- 19th c. anatomical model of a bee
- Birds in little sweaters: Annette Messager
- Museum accession numbers are like gang tattoos
- A cluster of rats