When I was a child we used to visit the Museum of Natural History in New York City. Of all the displays the ones that have stayed with me were the tableaux of the African animals. It seemed a bit gruesome, and now with technology tourist attractions can use animatronics, the loss in popularity of trophy-hunting these stuffed mounted animals displays may become a thing of the past.
There's an odd kind of artistry involved in taking the remains of a once-living creature and recreating its environment. Taxidermy is a highly technical skill and so is getting its environment just right.
There are two places where you can still see true mounted animals in carefully arranged environment – The Touchstone Museum near Shreveport in Haughton Lousiana (Phone: 318 - 949-2323) and the Delbridge Museum of Natural History in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Touchstone Wildlife and Art Museum
The Touchstone Wildlife and Art Museum was started in 1981 by the Touchstones. They were taxidermists who had developed Bess Maid dry preservative that had revolutionized the rather messy process of taxidermy.
Enjoy this video of the Touchstone Wildlife Museum
Today, their museum displays 1,000 mounts of large and small animals, birds, and reptiles from around the world. While some where shot by the Touchstones on their trips, many more died naturally in regional zoos and were, in a sense, rescued and given a new “life” in the museum. This is still very much a family enterprise with either Lura Touchstone or her daughter Samantha Olson there to explain the process and even to open some of the glass windows to allow an up-close look at their meticulously created dioramas. This is definitely a fun and quirky place. Read more about the Museum and other unusual Shreveport places to visit
Delbridge Museum of Natural History
Taking a more academic approach, the Delbridge offers 150 mounted animals originally collected by Henry Brockhouse, who hunted extensively from 1940 through 1960. After he died, the collection was put up for sale, and purchased by the C.J. Delbridge family who donated them to the Great Plains Zoo to become the Delbridge Museum of Natural History.
The displays are meticulously created and quite fascinating. The museum is careful to note: All of the Museum specimens collected by Mr. Brockhouse were legally hunted at the time. Now, many of these species are deeply endangered. Read more about visiting the attractions of Sioux Falls