Art of the Diorama

Another good reason for going to New York (you needed one?) is to visit the Natural History Museum to see the dioramas. These are one of the glories of New York, a city with far more than its fair share, and thety are better than you could imagine. They recreate a lost world of wilderness that is only a few generations behind us. These are my photos of them.

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The museum’s website has a history of the making of these dioramas, describing the field research and amazing physical construction techniques. It rivals Hollywood.

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Background artist Chris E. Olsen (underwater in diving gear) making “field sketches” in oil paint while on location for the Andros coral reef diorama in the Bahamas (c.1924)

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Raymond deLucia painting bird droppings on the artificial rocks in the Little Diomede Island diorama in the Whitney Memorial Hall of Pacific Bird Life (1939)

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Foreground artist Freidoun Jalayer melting away the wax from a model of a saguaro cactus for the Hall of North American Forests (1953)

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Foreground artists Reginald “Buddy” Sayre and Tomas Newbery reconstructing giant forest trees for the Olympic Forest diorama (1952)

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Artist Belmore Browne painting the background for the Alaska brown bear diorama (1941)

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