As I’ve mentioned, I’m currently
stranded in visiting New England. So far, I have identified two themes: 1) no good coffee, anywhere and 2.) questionable taxidermy specimens, EVERYWHERE.
See what I mean?
accidentally backed up into this display case, turned around, and immediately screamed saw this at the New Bedford Whaling Museum, which is also the home of this not-so-stellar Steller’s Sea Cow, of which I am inexplicably fond — perhaps because it wears an expression that puts me in mind of my brother’s golden retriver, Brody.*
But the New Bedford Whaling Museum — while without institutional peer when it comes to whale skeletons, model ships, and scrimshaw** — is NOT the creepy taxidermy capital of New England.
That honor must certainly belong to the Museum of Natural History and Planetarium at Roger Williams Park, in Providence.
While the majority of the displays are fairly straightforward —
— this one is not.
Rather, this one is a life-sized diorama of how wrong it might go if you were to invite a brown bear into your lavishly furnished Victorian parlor.
Oh, and did I mention the lion cubs? The ones that were killed alongside their mother, stuffed, and then posed, happy families-style, so that it looks like they’re nursing?
This one receives an honorable mention for making me feel sad and creeped out, as opposed to just creeped out.
However, I really think the grand prize goes to this display:
If you said, “Wait, is that an angry turtle with a small obelisk fused to its shell?” I would respond, “Why, yes! That is exactly what it is!”
Numerous signs posted throughout the museum assured us that these specimens, though they might disgust the modern observer, were essential to science. We would, they insist, know nothing about these creatures had someone not shot, stuffed, and mounted them. They were killing these birds to save them, you see!
So that future generations could be enthralled by the Passenger Pigeon. Or the Great Auk. Or the Carolina Parakeet. Or the Labrador Duck. Or…well, you get the point.