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Still Life: Adventures in Taxidermy

Melissa Milgrom.
Publisher Houghton Mifflin  
Format hardcover
Product Dimensions 8.5 x 5.75 x 1 inches
ISBN 9780618405473
Pages/Publication Date 285/2010
Daedalus Item Code 21018
This item is not available.
It's easy to dismiss taxidermy as a kitschy or morbid sideline, the realm of trophies, jackalopes, and dusty dioramas. Yet as journalist Melissa Milgrom found during her own six-year exploration, the taxidermists' world is one of intrepid hunter-explorers, eccentric naturalists, and gifted museum artisans, all devoted to the paradoxical pursuit of creating the illusion of life. Here she ranges from the family workshop of the last chief taxidermist for the American Museum of Natural History to the studio of English sculptor Emily Mayer, who preserves the animals for Damien Hirst's most disturbing artworks. Milgrom wanders through Mr. Potter's Museum of Curiosities in the final days of its existence to watch dealers vie for preserved Victorian oddities, and tags along with a Canadian bear trapper and former Roy Orbison impersonator—the three-time World Taxidermy Champion—as he resurrects an extinct Irish elk using DNA studies and Paleolithic cave art for reference. Transformed from a curious onlooker to an empathetic participant, picking up a scalpel and stuffing her own squirrel, Milgrom takes us deep into the world of taxidermy and reveals its uncanny appeal.

"In this absorbing blend of bright-eyed reportage and hands-on participation, journalist Milgrom demystifies the creepy art of bringing dead creatures back to life and dispels the myth that taxidermists merely stuff animals.... Milgrom's initial uneasy curiosity blossoms into genuine appreciation for a true art form, an enthusiasm the author imparts with style in this substantial study."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

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