The Specimens

Compound Ascidian (Sea Squirt), D’Arcy Thompson Zoology Museum, University of Dundee


In the late nineteenth century Dundee was the European capital of the whaling industry, a fleet of up to sixteen ships sailing for the Arctic every year. Professor D’Arcy Thompson, recognising the potential for his Zoology Museum, made friends with the whalers and encouraged them to bring back specimens for him. In time he built [...]

Submitted by: Matthew Jarron | Leave a comment

Ode to an Anatomical Venus

Anatomical Venus, probably modeled by Clemente Susini, wax model with human hair and pearls in rosewood and Venetian glass case, ca 1790, La Specola, Museo di Storia Naturale, Florence, Italy

The Anatomical Venuses and Slashed Beauties created in the late eighteenth century by the studio at ‘La Specola’ Natural History Museum in Florence, Italy, under the leadership of Clemente Susini are the perfect specimens, though to refer to them as specimens or, indeed, even as ‘objects’ seems wrong-headed, besides the point, an insult to their utterly persuasive [...]

Submitted by: Joanna Ebenstein | Leave a comment

Gaston Durville, Hand of a Corpse Mummified by Mesmerism, 1913

Gaston Durville, Hand of a Corpse Mummified by Mesmerism, 1913

In January 1913 Gaston Durville started to experiment with a dismembered hand, a body part given to him by a certain Dr. Soquet . For almost more than three months this hand was treated with the electric flow of magnetic fields. Additionally, three so-called magnetiseurs carefully performed a ritual where each day, for three quarters [...]

Submitted by: Dietmar Rübel | Leave a comment

Mark Dion: Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus)

Mark Dion: Polar Bears and Toucans (from Amazonas to Svalbard), crate, washtub, tar, stuffed animal, sound from the Venezuelan Amazon region, 1991

Regardless of how diminished and frail our picture of nature has become, floods, droughts, earthquakes, and climatic changes continually remind us of the power and complexity of the environment and our inability to control or predict it.

Submitted by: Mark Dion | Leave a comment

Bird Hide

Bird Hide

For years I was searching for dead birds. Not just any dead birds; finding dead birds, in and of itself, is dead easy. Dead birds have a habit of just showing up: found shriveled on the street after flying into the windows of skyscrapers; inhabiting the avian galleries and overfilling the ornithological specimen drawers of [...]

Submitted by: Hanna Rose Shell | Leave a comment