The History and Significance of Taxidermy Bird Collections in North America: BGSU's Own Undervalued Collection and Its Future
Taxidermy, despite its association with the bizarre and outlandish, has a rich history and culture that helped to define post-Civil War America and its pursuit of knowledge and reconnection with nature. With the widespread publication and availability of how-to guides, natural history collecting and taxidermy became accessible to any individual regardless of age, gender, or class. The hobby required physicality and courage to collect unique and interesting specimens, and intellect and creativity to conserve and display them, all of which inherently connected the avocation with respect. With varying levels of success, hobbyists experimented with different chemicals, such as arsenic, in their attempt to ward off deterioration from insects and preserve the specimens. As private collections were progressively amassed and joined at large public institutions, the significance of taxidermy for education began to grow. In addition to its numerous scientific implications, taxidermy allows an individual to view a specimen face-to-face in a controlled setting. When collections are neglected and left to collect dust, their educational potential is greatly diminished. This is the case for Bowling Green State University’s (BGSU) taxidermy bird collection. With the historical context and chronology of taxidermy and bird collecting established, including its past and present significance, a display was created in the BGSU Life Sciences Building featuring a select group of specimens in order to highlight the overlooked potential and importance of the collection. Not only will this increase the usability of the collection from an educational standpoint, but it will also show that the collection is worth taking care of for present and future generations.
Dr. Verner Bingman
First Advisor Department
Dr. Daniel Pavuk
Second Advisor Department
Ms. Christine Shaal
Third Advisor Department
Burnside, Kristin, "The History and Significance of Taxidermy Bird Collections in North America: BGSU's Own Undervalued Collection and Its Future" (2023). Honors Projects. 902.
Environmental Education Commons, History of Science, Technology, and Medicine Commons, Ornithology Commons