If you’re interested in the bizarre and obscure, Ohio’s Mansfield Memorial Museum could be the place for you.
This Richland County museum’s Victorian-era taxidermy display is by no means your typical ‘life science’ presentation of animals… At Mansfield, little birds and beasts are dressed up in tiny costumes and posed in miniature vignettes.
You’ll find surprisingly human-like scenes, including a rat band being directed by a bullfrog, or a party of ducks gathered around a table for afternoon tea. There’s even an elaborate wedding scene with a beautifully dressed bride, a handsome groom and a stately preacher reading from a bible. Of course, they’re all ducks.
This may be the most unique attraction in Ohio and possibly the only place in North America with such an extensive array of these little Victorian taxidermy displays. The original creator was Edward Wilkinson, who set up the scenes between 1871 and 1876. The vignettes have been on display for the last 125 years.
The art of taxidermy began when hunters that wanted to display their trophies. During the Victorian era, taxidermy became hugely popular, and well-to-do British families displayed artfully created taxidermy in their homes. It was during this time that taxidermy artists began experimenting with different techniques to demonstrate their creativity and skill. As the artists produced more fanciful displays, the popularity of fairytale taxidermy-dioramas increased.
The collection at the Mansfield Memorial Museum is quite broad and the unusual taxidermy pieces are only a portion of what’s on offer. You’ll also find displays of the world’s first robots, relics from ancient Rome, military history artifacts and many natural history items. The more modern collections feature collections from Native American, Asian and African cultures.