The Science of a Diorama

To get a further grasp on habitat dioramas, I read Windows on Nature: The Great Habitat Dioramas of the American Museum of Natural History (Abrams, 2006) by Stephen Christopher Quinn.

Windows on Nature
Image from Windows on Nature: The Great Habitat Dioramas of the American Museum of Natural History.

As I mentioned before, Louis Daguerre (famous for the daguerreotype process of photography) invented the diorama in 1822. Since then, museums have been using the technique of combining two and three dimensional elements to create “virtual realities.”

To create this effect, there are three main components to the classical habitat dioramas –

  1. the taxidermy specimens
  2. the foreground which includes all three-dimensional elements
  3. curved background painting

All these combined creates the illusion of distance and offer a window into an environment inhabited by wild animals. Check out a video featuring Stephen Christopher Quinn speaking about the history of the habitat dioramas here.

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The Science of a Diorama

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