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Life, Living and Lifelessness in Taxidermy

Chapter in book
Authors Luanne Meehitiya
Dawn Sanders
Jill Hohenstein
Published in Natural History Dioramas-Traditional Exhibits for Current Educational Themes
Pages 97-112
ISBN 9783030002077
Publisher Springer Nature
Place of publication Gewerbestrasse Switzerland
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Pedagogical, Curricular and Professional Studies
Pages 97-112
Language en
Keywords Taxidermy, Life, Death, Conversations, Display
Subject categories Biological Sciences, Educational Sciences


This chapter extends and further develops a recent paper by two of the authors, Sanders and Hohenstein, by both drawing in a curatorial perspective and examining potentials of specific taxidermic displays for learning conversations. In the aforementioned paper we drew attention to research on the ways taxidermic display is currently used, the ways children learn through family conversation, and the types of understandings children are known to have about life and death. Our belief that these collections represent potential research spaces for understanding the impact of parental communication on children’s understandings of life and death underscores a guided reflection on the merits of taxidermic display for demonstrating ways in which concepts of life, and death, are discussed by families. Furthermore, we maintain that such studies might facilitate new interdisciplinary relationships between museum curators and researchers, thus contributing to wider debate on the place of natural history collections in society. To that end, this chapter deepens and extends previous discussions by a) bringing in a curatorial perspective through the addition of a third author, Luanne Meehitiya and b) reflecting on the content and genre of specific taxidermic displays in relation to possibilities for conversations pertaining to notions of life and death.

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