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Carl Akeley

(1864 - 1926)

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Biography

Born in Clarendon, NY in 1864, Carl Akeley  is considered the father of modern taxidermy. [1] He was the founder of the AMNH Exhibitions Lab, the interdisciplinary department that fuses scientific research with immersive design. Akeley specialized in African mammals, particularly the gorilla and the elephant. As a taxidermist, he improved on techniques of fitting the skin over a carefully prepared and sculpted form of the animal's body, producing very lifelike specimens, with consideration of musculature, wrinkles, and veins. He also displayed the specimens in groups in a natural setting. Many animals that he preserved he had personally collected.


In 1909 Akeley accompanied Theodore Roosevelt  on a year long expedition in Africa funded by the Smithsonian Institution and began working at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City where his efforts can still be seen in the Akeley African Hall of Mammals. Akeley joined  The Explorers Club in 1912, having been sponsored by three of the Club's seven Charter Members: Frank Chapman, Henry Collins Walsh, and Marshall Saville. For qualifying, Akeley wrote only, "Explorations in Somaliland and British East Africa." He became the Club's sixth president in 1917–1918.


Akeley died in Africa, in 1926.