Taxidermy at the American Museum of Natural History, NYC

One of the most impressive exhibits at the American Museum of Natural History in NYC are the stuffed animals. The technical term is taxidermy, and if done right, it’s art. The pity is that it’s going extinct.

Of all the taxidermists listed on the AMNH website, only two are potentially living, and none of them work there anymore.

The last full-time taxidermist at the Smithsonian retired this year, which is a nice way of saying he was let go because there wasn’t work for him anymore. Did I mention his father and his grandfather were also taxidermists and also worked for the Smithsonian?

Perhaps most telling is that all of the taxidermists in the US can be listed on a single web page at Taxidermy Net. Now this is just a guess, but I bet most of them stick to fish and birds — you know, the kind of schmaltz you stick over the fireplace after you catch “the big one” — and they aren’t up to par with museum standards.

I suppose in the future, we’ll be dazzled with 3D computer renditions of animals when we go to museums. We’ll be able to pet them (or rather the air or the screen where they’re rendered), and they’ll react, but it’ll be a sad substitute. There’s nothing like seeing an animal in the flesh (in the skin, anyway). It stops you dead in your tracks to see the eyes, the texture of the skin or fur, the paws, the claws, the sheer brutality and mass of a beast that could tear you apart if it were alive. No computer will ever be able to replicate that.

Take your kids to see real taxidermy while it’s still around. It may not be around for their kids.

These last few photos aren’t examples of taxidermy, but they’re neat things to see at the AMNH.


New York City

This is a continuation of a post from 2007 entitled “A weekend in Manhattan“. In it, I promised more photos from New York were forthcoming. What can I say… I like long-awaited sequels… I kept that promise in part with “Manhattan, from the top of the Empire State Building” and “Walking out on hope“, but I didn’t get to winnow, process and publish all of my best New York photos until now.

Therefore, I selected 44 photographs which you can see here. The rest are in my photo catalog. I’ll start at the micro level first, looking at individual buildings, then I’ll show you a few New York cityscapes, taken from above and from the bay. Enjoy!

What’s perhaps the best known building in Manhattan?

For someone who’s seen and loved both versions of “Miracle on 34th Street” (1947 and 1994), this store is quite well known.

One of my abiding photography subjects — as a matter of fact, a principal subject of my photography — is architecture. I keep coming back to it. I love photographing interesting buildings. I spent most of my time in New York walking about, as I usually do when I go somewhere, with my camera in hand, looking at buildings and capturing what I found interesting. Continue reading

A Guide To A Good Life, Places

The Algonquin Hotel in Manhattan

Hotel Algonquin

The Algonquin will soon host its 90th anniversary of the Algonquin Round Table, and they’re holding a Commemorative Symposium of Wit and Wisdom on November 17th, from 7-9 pm. Tickets cost $100 each. Should be a lot of fun.


We stayed at the Algonquin Hotel in 2007, during our weekend trip to Manhattan, and we highly recommend it. The location is wonderful, very near to Times Square, yet on a relatively quiet side street without many street lights, which means you can get a good night’s rest. The beds are comfy, and the decor is tasteful. The setting is, of course, historic, and that’s worth quite a bit in our book.







4th of July fireworks in NYC

This year’s (2009) Fourth of July fireworks in Manhattan, NYC, as filmed by Andrei Severny from CityAction.

4TH OF JULY FIREWORKS (2009) from Andrei Severny on Vimeo.