The Art of Ryan Matthew Cohn

The Collective Disease: The Art and Artifacts of Ryan Matthew Cohn explores the Oddities star’s incredible personal collection in his museum-like New York home, including his exploded Beauchene skulls, taxidermy, anatomical wet specimens, skeletal articulations, shrunken heads and a complete Greco-Roman period Egyptian mummy.

The exploded skulls, skeletal articulations and medical preparations of Oddities star Ryan Matthew Cohn
Cohn examines an elongated skull from his personal collection

See more fascinating and bizarre videos over at The Midnight Archive.

"Chrysalis" by Carl Akeley

Naturalist Carl Akeley’s Sculpture Reveals the Inner Humanity of Gorillas

Sculpted in 1924 by taxidermist and gorilla advocate Carl Akeley, “Chrysalis” represents his belief in the humanity of the apes.

Carl Akeley killed a leopard with his bare hands

Famed Taxidermist Carl Akeley Turns 150

 

Carl Akeley, the grandfather of modern taxidermy, turns 150 this week.

Recently, tales of the legendary tough guy have been circulating around the web, recounting his first expedition for the Chicago Field Museum in 1896, when he was attacked by a leopard. Akeley was hunting ostriches at dusk, when he took a shot at what he believed to be a warthog rustling around in the tall grasses. To his surprise, a leopard jumped out at him, which he managed to fight off and kill with his bare hands. He is said to have strangled the animal while his arm was down its throat.

Legendary taxidermist Carl Akeley stands with the leopard he killed with his bare hands

But Akeley is best known as an accomplished taxidermist, sculptor and inventor, pioneering many new methods of taxidermy and museum dioramas still in use today.

He began making a name for himself in New York, where he earned a place in the spotlight with his mount of the famous Barnum & Bailey circus elephant Jumbo, who was struck by a locomotive. He went on to the Milwaukee Public Museum in 1886, where he created the world’s first complete habitat diorama.

For Akeley, taxidermy was a tool for conservation. This meant dangerous expeditions into the African wild to study the species, document their habitats, and bring down most majestic specimens he could find for display in museum dioramas. His work for the American Museum of Natural History lead to the creation of his masterpiece, the Akeley Hall of African Mammals.

Among his contributions to the taxidermy world are the use of lightweight mannequins rather than sawdust to mount the skins, and the study of anatomy to achieve more life-like work.

Akeley died of a fever in the Congo during his fifth expedition to Africa.

Habitat Dioramas as Early Tools in Wildlife Conservation

For more on the life of Carl Akeley check out Kingdom Under Glass and Still Life: Adventures in Taxidermy.

Condemning Smallpox to Extinction

Smallbox warning sign

Delegates meet next week for the 67th World Health Assembly to discuss the deliberate extinction of the smallpox virus. The global eradication of smallpox was confirmed in 1980. The World Health Organization closed smallpox research labs and destroyed all samples of the virus, with the exception of two sets of the Variola major and Variola minor strains. One set was sent to the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, and the other to the State Research Centre for Virology and Biotechnology in Koltsovo, Novosibirsk.

The destruction of the virus was originally set for December 30th, 1993. However, opposition from the US and Russia have delayed the process.

More here: Let’s finally condemn the smallpox virus to extinction

Vintage photo of a smallpox patient

The death car of Bonnie and Clyde

The Death Car of Bonnie and Clyde

The ‘death car’ of Bonnie and Clyde, still riddled with bullet holes, has been on display ever since the notorious bank robbers were gunned down.