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Season 2, Episode 1 · 3 years ago

Episode 201 - Extinction

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Here you are, the turn of the twentieth century, standing on the footsteps of the recently completed American Museum of Natural History, a place today that we associate with pop culture, school field trips and unwavering foundation of Public Education. Like the history of any institution, it is much more complicated. It hides histories of race, empire, conquest and, by contrast, collection, conservation and preservation. In this season of here you are, we will examine the life of Car Lagley, the father of modern taxidermy and creator of the American Museum of Natural Histories most famous exhibit, the Hall of African Mammals. Through Agley, we will stitch together these overlapping histories to reveal how a society a hundred years ago dealt with the extinction of nature. Our story begins in the nine S, on the steps of the museum, looking down West Eighty First...

Street, horse drawn carriages carry the upper class safely and securely through Manhattan's dirty streets, separating them from the supposedly unwashed and degenerate masses. A passing elderly wealthy woman wears a hat adorned with exotic birds. Upon further examination, you catch the glint of your reflection off of glass and realize the birds are nothing but plumage stuffed with Sawdust. Had you arrived in New York in the eighteen eight S, you may have encountered a young Carl Agley, recently back from training at wards natural science establishment and employed as an exotic bird tax at armist. As a young man, Agley could only put his talents for animal resurrection to work in the mindless and unskilled industry a Victorian era milliner or hatmaker. At that time, exotic animals were just the latest fashion statement. Turned now to the south and peer between the new skyscrapers that encroach on the sky, constructing the concrete canopy we are all familiar with today. In this era of...

...the skyscraper, a now middle aged Achley works inside of the American Museum of Natural History, breathing life into dead African animals with plaster, wood, clay and skin. With every stitched animal pelt and sculpted anatomically correct muscle, Akeley believes he's one step closer to capturing wild nature for display to civilized Americans and breath taking dioramas. In contrast, his wife Deelia, in one of the apartment buildings across the park, domesticates nature in her own way, caring for a live monkey captured on a collection expedition with Carl. North of Manhattan, the Bronx Zoo houses cramped animals. There, William Hornaday, an alumnus of wards tax army school in Rochester, serves as director and puzzles over the vanishing buffalo of the American West and how to halt extinction and its implications for the United States. Across the street you see an advertisement for a moving picture Simba,...

...the King of the beasts. One figure stabilizes a camera, the other figure tense with a gun, a lion leaps at the duo. Underneath reads for years to make two hours to show inside the theater and exotic safari awaits you. Returning to the twenty first century, we turn back around and head into the American Museum of Natural History, dodging people taking selfies and passing through the large doors. You note the hall of Oceanography, the sparkling gems and mineral collection, and around the corner a dinosaur pokes its head out the door. And of course, you enter the hall of African Mammals, where visitors flocked to see akleys masterpiece. Although you were surrounded by people, you are caught in the sounds of the Savannah of nature, surrounded by the plants and animals that humans have destroyed. As we had passed to the gorilla frozen in time, we take the stairs into the Rotunda, we turn right, walk down a corridor and enter the hall of Planet Earth. Why is arth capitable? A plaque questions a few meters away. What Causes Climate Change? The...

...answer us. The museum's present mission addresses environmental decline and extinction. This is not new. In fact, the modern incarnation of the museum was created for this fairy purpose. We ponder the recent headlines of the disappearing bees in the last of the polar bear. What does this mean for our children, for our future generations? How are we going to save what little remains of nature as a society? Today? If you ask that same question to Carl Aigley, his answer taxidermy. Hi, I'm Milapard and I'm Liamgusius, and you are listening to here. You are a podcast about nature reconstructed over the season. We will be exploring how a previous generation grappled with the threat of animal extinction and environmental decline. How they chose to preserve live animals and death with taxidermy. Just a few blocks from where we are in Rochester, New York, a group of men stuff straw and Sawdust and quickly stitched thousands of animal...

...specimens and distribute them to many academic institutions around the world. Akley, who trained here, would go on to revolutionized taxidermy through his work at the American Museum of Natural History. Throughout this season of here you are, we will discuss their having group of friends, clients, lovers and associates, their motivations, desires and anxieties that drove them to do this work and the implications of their actions. This season we will discuss the disappearance of the Buffalo and the practice of taxidermy to preserve a species. By William Hornaday, Jumbo the elephant will trumpet his way across the Brooklyn Bridge and then through those streets of Rochester as a taxidermy mascot of the Barnum and Bailey Circus. We will explore the relationship of trophy hunting, the search for masculinity and a camera empire. Through George Eastman, we will look through the eyes of Delia Akley and her experience of gendered expectations and the exoticizing of the African continent. Listen with us as...

...we delve into the first nature documentaries and the transition away from taxidermy with Osa and Martin Johnson. Throughout the season we will discuss the themes of race, gender and Conquest, behaviors and decisions that we view today as deeply problematic and troubling. Examination of this not so distant past allows our ears to be open to our own approach to climate change, extinction and the preservation of nature. Here you are is a podcast created by students at the University of Rochester. This episode was produced by my Lapard and Liam Gusios. Our engineer was Liam Gusios. Our theme music is by Joshua Copperman. The coordinating producers for this season of here you are are my lapard and Liam Gusios. The executive producers are Thomas Fleischman and Steven Restner. Here you are is made possible by the teaching innovation grant at the University of Rochester, and be sure to check out the other episodes of here you are season two. Nature reconstructed at here you arecom thanks for listening.

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