What Did a Day in a Museum and Taxidermy Get Kevin Twomey Thinking About?

Recently, Kevin Twomey worked on a project for the Museum of Natural History in Los Angeles.  Once the project was complete, he sent along this blog post about his experience.  Once again, Kevin shares with us what inspires him and gets him thinking.  In this case, taxidermy.

“I wonder if in 100 years the fabrication of the Museum Diorama will become a lost art, replaced by our desire to have some slick, Hollywood­ produced, fantastical, 3­D VR world of hyper­reality? I surely hope not. I love how the talents of a team of people from different disciplines are brought together to create these scenes. Yes, some feel a little contrived, but sit in a hall surrounded by these displays for a while and you will either start to get the willies or start to see the beauty in them.

I recently did a shoot at the Los Angeles Museum of Natural History and after we wrapped, I spent a little quiet time in the African Hall after museum hours. I thought about Hirosi Sugimoto’s Diorama series and how his beautiful black and white images transformed the scene into something more believable than the diorama themselves. What a simple idea but brilliant!

I remember when I was a child standing in front of the Dioramas for the first time at the Museum of Natural History in NYC feeling a bit mystified about what I was looking at. Were the animals alive and just standing really, really still? And if so, where did they go after the museum closed?

In our journey from photography to videos to VR, you might think we’ve progressed way beyond dioramas. But though the venues have changed, I believe the process has remained quite similar: a team of artisans apply their collective expertise in an attempt to create a believable scene from its less ­believable components.

We will always embrace new technologies to enable that child­like suspension of reality needed to take us on fantastical journeys. But sometimes, the work of a good taxidermist against a beautifully hand­painted backdrop is all my inner­ child needs. ”


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