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Restored animal heads get nod from Vanderbilt Museum

Taxidemist George Dante and some of his completed work.
Taxidemist George Dante and some of his completed work.
Courtesy Vanderbilt Museum

The heads of 20 animals have been returned to the Vanderbilt Museum in Centerport, NY, after being restored by George Dante of Wildlife Preservations of Woodland Park, NJ. Mr. Dante is one of the American Museum of Natural History’s leading taxidermists, and had previously accomplished the “spectacular restoration of the Vanderbilt’s 32-foot long, 8 ton whale shark,” remarked Stephanie Gress, director of the facility’s curatorial services.

This latest project, which includes heads originally mounted from the 1920’s to the 1960’s marks the completion of another phase in the restoration of the Vanderbilt’s Stoll Wing’s animal habitat dioramas, added Gress, making it even better than before.

In the meantime, Dante stated that his biggest satisfaction came in successfully repairing items that “might have been thought of as lost and not salvageable.”

“In working on the heads you see how taxidermy materials and methods evolved over the decades, from wrapped forms to paper manikins, from very crude glass eyes to better quality, making them more and more accurate,” he exclaimed.
In the meantime, Sean Murtha has succeeded in creating exciting new diaoramas as backgrounds for many of the Museum’s preserved animals, including a painting of African grasslands as background for a gemsbock in the Stoll Wing. Murtha, a former staff artist for the American Museum of Natural History has also created the twelve huge background paintings for the dioramas in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life. He has also been retained to paint a second painting for the Stoll Wing, as well as retouch and restore a half dozen more.
For more information, contact the Vanderbilt Museum, 140 Little Neck Rd., Centerport, NY 11721 631 854-5579.