Journal Article


Dead ringer? Visitors’ understanding of taxidermy as authentic and educational museum exhibits

Abstract

Museum professionals value authentic museum specimens because they are believed to promote inspirational and educational experiences for visitors; however, limited research has tested whether visitors value museum specimens in these ways. In this study, 4- to 10-yearolds and adults (n = 228), who were visiting the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, were asked to explain whether a taxidermied rabbit belonged in a museum and could help museum visitors learn about rabbits. Participants responded about a taxidermied rabbit that was presented either as a touchable object, inside an exhibition case, or alongside a realistic soft toy rabbit. As expected, the number of visitors who thought that the taxidermied rabbit belonged in a museum and could help visitors learn about rabbits increased with age and was greater when it was presented alongside the toy rabbit. Visitors explained their decisions by referring to the stillness of a taxidermied animal that permitted detailed study, its authentic features, and its previous status as a living animal. Implications for promoting visitors’ understanding of museum taxidermy are discussed.

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Authors

Bunce, Louise

Oxford Brookes departments

Faculty of Health and Life Sciences\Department of Psychology, Social Work and Public Health

Dates

Year of publication: 2016
Date of RADAR deposit: 2016-08-17


Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License


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