"Windows on Nature" includes forty of the museum's finest dioramas, depicting animals and birds from around the world. The text includes fascinating information about how the dioramas were created and who made them. It covers exploration, documentation, specimen hunting, taxidermy, landscape painting, and the craft of diorama-making. Following is an excerpt from the book's foreword by Ellen V. Futter, President, American Museum of Natural History: Which is your favorite display at the American Museum of Natural History? Perhaps you remember the Alaskan brown bear towering over you when you were a child. Or the mountain gorilla, so humanlike, in its lush Congo home...These extraordinary exhibits inspire us with awe, admiration, even affection. Perhaps nothing embodies the spirit and mission of the museum so completely as these painstakingly created, lifelike habitat displays. They set out to educate us about nature and science, and to engender feelings of wonder in - and stewardship of - the natural world. And they succeed brilliantly.
They reverberate with the vision, passion, and expertise of their creators who pioneered and perfected the art and technology of diorama making, each of whom strove to serve science, bringing glorious nature to the public in ways never seen before or since. The dioramas are, in a sense, "windows on nature." They precisely depict a specific location, complete with its indigenous flora and wildlife. Animals are showcased with keen attention to their anatomy, behavior, social groupings, and biomechanics. But their real power is in the hearts and minds of those who view them and thereby enter the natural world.
Naturalist and artist Stephen Christopher Quinn joined the staff of the American Museum of Natural History in 1974. As senior project manager for exhibitions at the museum, Quinn oversees all aspects of new diorama creation - including field expeditions, exhibit fabrication, and installation - as well as diorama conservation and restoration. Quinn lives in Ridgefield Park, New Jersey, with his wife and two children. The American Museum of Natural History was incorporated in New York City in 1869 to promote the study of natural science and related subjects. The museum maintains exhibitions in all branches of natural history, including anthropology and ecology. As a result of its wide explorations and research programs, it has acquired specimens and data of great value.