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From the Stacks 

April 30, 2013

Diorama-rama!

During our ongoing photo collection survey, we came across an image (by Moulin Studios) of a scale model version of the lion diorama that still stands in African Hall. Since the model is dated 1929 and African Hall didn’t open until five years later, it’s a rare glimpse into the early planning stages of the exhibit. Scale models were used to sketch out ideas for large dioramas before building the real thing.
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The final diorama turned out significantly different than the original model: the lions are facing the opposite direction, and a second female lion was added. Every aspect of the diorama was undertaken by Frank Tose (then Head of Exhibits), including the taxidermy, installation, and background mural.
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The lion diorama was unchanged from 1934 until the closure of the Academy’s original buildings in 2004. Since the murals in each diorama were painted directly onto the walls of African Hall, there was no way to save them when the building was demolished. Instead, they were painstakingly documented, color-matched, and re-created in the new building.
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The lions themselves were sent to a taxidermist for cleaning and repair, since 70 years on exhibit had taken its toll on them. The original foregound was preserved and re-created, although the sunset in the background was toned down, due to Academy scientists’ concerns about its scientific accuracy. In 2011, an additional audiovisual element was added to create moving herds on the plain behind the lions.
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Special thanks to Roberta Brett for her stories about the process of moving African Hall!

Kelly Jensen
- Digital Production Assistant


Filed under: Academy History,Archives finds,Exhibits,Photography — Archives & Special Collections @ 5:33 pm

April 10, 2013

A Naturalist’s Garden of Verses, Part Two

April is National Poetry Month here in the United States (and National Poetry Writing Month, hint hint…), and so we thought it time for another installment of “A Naturalist’s Garden of Verses.”  These four poems feature swaying owls, cloud-riding, and actual sea moss specimens mounted on the page.  Enjoy!

Verse from Sea Mosses, by Clara B. Heath (1881), lettering and specimen mount by Grace A. Hall (1890 ca.)  From the Grace A. Hall collection.

Were these the trees of a mimic isle,
Never at loss for the sun or dew?
Or only the branches that decked a while
A fairy boat with its fairy crew?

Verse from Sea Mosses, by James Thomas Field (1849), lettering by Grace A. Hall (1890 ca.) From the Grace A. Hall collection.
These tributes plundered from the sea
These many-colored variegated forms
Sail to our rougher shores and rise and fall,
To the deep music of the Atlantic wave.
Such spoils we capture where the rainbows drop
Melting in ocean.

The Owl and the Stars, by Arthur L. Bolton (1930 ca.) From the Bolton Family collection.
The little Stars were playing in the sky,
When the Man-in-the-Moon came sailing by;
He winked at them and they winked at him,
And they winked at the Owl on the old dry limb.
They played hide-and-seek, for the night was still,
And the Moon slipped down behind the hill,
But the little Stars kept winking still
And nodding in a roguish way,
To see the Owl sit there and sway
Till the Sun came up, when all he could do,
Was to sit on that limb the whold [sic] day through.

Untitled, by George S. Myers (1930 ca.) From the George S. Myers collection.
O would that I could ride a cloud
Over far vistas bright
O would that I might be a star
To scan the dim vastness of the night

O would that the world before me lay
All visible to my roving eye
For… [unfinished -HY]

A Naturalist’s Garden of Verses, Part One
-Heather Yager
Academy Archivist


Filed under: Academy History,Archives — Archives & Special Collections @ 10:51 pm

April 5, 2013

The first botanical Illustration Smackdown

Stepping away from our previous animal focused Smackdowns, our focus today is Foeniculum vulgare, also known as common fennel. This culinary herb from the carrot family (Umbelliferae) is native to southern Europe and the Mediterranean area. You can read more about its usage and cultivation in Culinary Herbs, among other volumes.

(c) Henry Evans. to order prints, contact Marsha Evans: marsha@henryevans.com

Henry Evans made numerous botanical prints throughout his career. This fennel image is among several housed in the Archives, likely from an exclusive Academy exhibit.  Revered by botanists for his faithful portrayal of important characteristics, each species is created life size.

Henry Evans at his press, courtesy of the CAS Archive

(c) 2103 Diane T Sands gouache & colored pencil; magazine image created in Photoshop

(c)2013 Diane T Sands

I approached my own image of this plant by asking the question, what sort of client would ask me to create a botanical image of this species today? The most likely option would, I think, be a cooking magazine. So I laid out my image as if it were a magazine cover. The painting was created using gouache, and colored pencils.


Filed under: Archives,Scientific Illustration,Smackdown — Dsands @ 7:46 pm

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