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Windows on Nature: The Great Habitat Dioramas of the American Museum of Natural History Hardcover – April 1, 2006

4.9 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Stephen Christopher Quinn joined the staff of the American Museum of Natural History in 1974. As senior project manager for exhibitions, Quinn oversees all aspects of new diorama creation, conservation, and restoration. A longtime member of the Society of Animal Artists, Quinn lives in Ridgefield Park, New Jersey.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 180 pages
  • Publisher: American Museum of Natural History/Harry N. Abrams; 1st edition (April 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810959402
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810959408
  • Product Dimensions: 10.2 x 0.8 x 11.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #346,918 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I found this treasure at my local bookstore (could have got it cheaper here!), looked it over, walked away, came back and looked again, walked away again, but couldn't find anything else I wanted as badly. It is an elegant masterpiece. I happen to thrill at anything remotely connected to taxidermy, but this book will also interest those who like nature, museums, or art.

This book is specifically about the dioramas of one museum, but in telling how they were constructed - taxidermy, foreground, and background painting - it is enlightening to anyone who loves natural history museums in general. There are color photos of the dioramas today, and black-and-whites of the artists working on various stages of their development decades ago. The step-by-step pictures of how a huge elephant mount is put together are nothing short of fascinating. Then, in addition, there are behind the scenes stories about how each diorama came together, and some hair-raising tales of specimen collecting in Africa.

If I have a complaint, it is this: the author has written the text as if only addressing fellow New Yorkers, assuming his readers have already been to this museum and seen these dioramas in person. "Think back to your memories of visits to the grand diorama galleries of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City." I can't help but feel a bit excluded, having never been there, although I am perfectly able to appreciate the exhibits based on the museums I have had the pleasure to visit. Perhaps he underestimated the broader appeal this book would have, but at any rate he unknowingly sparks a desire in the rest of us to try to get there someday!
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Format: Hardcover
A work as visually impressive as it is informative, Windows On Nature: The Great Habitat Dioramas Of The American Museum Of Natural History is drawn from the studies of Stephen Christopher Quinn and presents a simply outstanding collection of the artistic creation of the animal and nature oriented displays since the museum's founding in 1869. Bringing together, for the first time in one superbly organized and unique collection, the artistic contributions of this New York based museum of natural history, Windows On Nature gives readers a chance to see the many inspiring (and sometimes incongruous) works of contributors to the great historical museum diorama displays. Windows On Nature is especially recommend-ed for academic and community library collections, as well as American Museum Of Natural History visitors and those engaged in study of nature-oriented art.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a marvelous and beautiful book. It has great color photos of recreated natural settings--the dioramas that bring nature to life in the museum--and the text is a pleasure to read. The descriptions and additional photos not only tell about the scenes but provide innumerable details and stories about how they were made, and the very human and wonderful museum exhibition people who, with skill and ingenuity, created them--the world behind the scenes. Bravo!
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Format: Hardcover
My father introduced me to the wonders of the American Museum of Natural History at the age of five.The Hall of African Mammals was the highlight of my first interest in the 1930`s.The dinosaur exhibit and ocean life can capture the imagination and fascination of any child.
Windows on Nature is a must have in the library of any one with an interest in Natural History.
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Format: Hardcover
New York Society Library

What a marvelous book.

The Dioramas have very specific and often fascinating histories of their own, and this wonderful book describes not only the contents but the incredible ways they were assembled and built. Details abound. How did the artists blend the foreground -- often dirt and stones from the original site -- seamlessly into the painted background? How did they arrange the lighting so that the shadows are natural but the animals and plants are beautifully lit?

A year ago, I attended a lecture by Ross D. E. MacPhee, a curator in the Mammalogy Department and supervising curator of the restoration of the Hall of North American Mammals. It was absolutely amazing the incredible detail that he and his team of employees and volunteers employ in restoring the exhibits. The bison never looked more beautiful!

This book is a perfect companion to at least two other fabulous books about the Museum and its collections:

Dinosaurs in the Attic: An Excursion into the American Museum of Natural History -- two main sections: collecting expeditions, including adventures in creating the 28 extraordinary dioramas in the Akeley Hall of African Mammals, recreated from paintings, photographs, data, and specimens collected in the field by the explorer and taxidermist Carl Akeley, his wife and his team on expeditions in the 1920s; and

a second set of journeys through specific areas of the museum, all beautifully reported by Douglas J. Preston.

...Read more ›
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