Richard Crawford

Taxidermy and Art

Richard Crawford's research looks at the movement of taxidermy from Museums of Natural History to Galleries of Contemporary Art in the late 20th century.

Richard's aim is to compare and contrast the different social, cultural and aesthetic factors that characterise taxidermy displays in museums and in art galleries. He will examine displays in 3 museums of Natural History: the Natural History Museum, the Horniman Museum and the Ipswich museum. He will compare the purpose, appearance and cultural significance of these taxidermy displays with those in contemporary art galleries. His research will complement existing studies on museum taxidermy and the use of animal remains in contemporary art by adopting a comparative approach.

My method of study:

  1. Visit the archives and collections of three Museums of Natural History in order to explore the changes in curatorial culture since 1950, noting the different ways in which they displayed taxidermy during this period. Also interview curators in all three museums examine the factors that may have led them to change their approach to taxidermy.
  2. Refer to printed sources such as gallery catalogues and reviews of exhibitions to document the use of taxidermy by contemporary artists since the 1990s, and interview selected art gallery curators.
  3. Explore the recent oscillation of taxidermy between contemporary art galleries and museums of Natural History since 2000 by referring to published sources, including studies in museology, art criticism and material culture.
  4. Explore the wider social, cultural and aesthetic factors that have prompted changes in the appearance of taxidermy displays and encouraged the spread of taxidermy to new locations since the 1950s and theorise the significance of the different ways in which taxidermy displays have been presented for public view in this period.


Dr Michaela Giebelhausen

Dr Nicola Foster