Taxidermy in Dutch Natural History Collections 1813-1940
Vries, M.H. de
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In this thesis a triptych view of the meaning taxidermy practice and objects hold in Dutch natural history collections (1813-1940) is given by approaching taxidermy from three angles; manuals, museums and its material. Taxidermy in the Netherlands has not been analyzed thoroughly before, and this thesis aims to provide an answer to that. In the first place, taxidermy’s complexities are found in writings, institutes and individual objects. It does become clear that taxidermy as a craft becomes inseparable with the science of zoology over the 19th century. Dutch manuals are analyzed to explore the author’s intent, the intellectual context of taxidermy and its colonial connection and they provide signs of taxidermy professionalizing. Furthermore, taxidermy can be used as a powerful tool for portraying an institute’s perception of nature. The history of several Dutch museums’ collections is held again their ideology and so their style of knowing nature is assessed. Finally, three specific objects/displays are closely ‘read’, to explore the meaning of taxidermy localized. The narratives that individual objects tell provide interesting insights about the people that made, collected and displayed them that adds depth to their status as biological specimen. Throughout the research the subject is related to articles on representing animals that clarify the role of that part of taxidermy in the theoretical context.