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


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Windows on Nature: The Great Habitat Dioramas of the American Museum of Natural History + Kingdom Under Glass: A Tale of Obsession, Adventure, and One Man's Quest to Preserve the World's Great Animals
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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: 11.3 x 10.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #502,990 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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A wonderful overview of the amazing dioramas at the Museum of Natural History.
Linda S
I enjoy the fact that this book not only has great photos, but also gives excellent insights into the entire process behind how the displays were made.
Chance A. Dunlap
Anyone who has ever visited the American Museum of Natural History will be captivated by the behind-the-scenes perspective presented.
Nolita Reader

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 35 people found the following review helpful By D. Vandervalk on June 3, 2006
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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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on April 2, 2006
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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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Eugene B. Bergmann on April 22, 2006
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By scenepainter on June 22, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
this is an amazing book full of wonderful information, great anecdotes, and
excellent pictures. A real treat for anyone interested in the Museum of Natural History
or in mural painting.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Robert A. Michaels on January 23, 2008
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
I am not a scientist nor museum professional, simply a museumgoer. This book is a clear and attractive presentation about the dioramas that have helped define this wonderful museum for decades. Anyone who has ever visited the American Museum of Natural History will be captivated by the behind-the-scenes perspective presented. Understanding this background adds depth to our appreciation of the habitats. Quinn must have dug up old diaries, records and I wonder if he even listened in on some conversations as well because he offers little known factoids which are fascinating to read about and which enhance our experience as a museumgoer. I highly recommend this volume to anyone who has visited the museum. For those who have not visited, the book provides a wonderful view of what you've been missing!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I barely looked up from this book once I received it. The stories behind the dioramas are out of this world, and nothing like you would expect. My two favorites were "Leopard" and "Mandrill", both sharing chilling accounts of how an animal specimen was acquired and the real life danger that accompanied every expedition. I never gave much thought to the idea that the displays were once very much alive and wild, but this book gave me a whole new a whole new perspective.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Beautiful photos the capture the dream-like quality of the diorama. Although the intent is mostly in the realm of natural science, the effect is one of marvelous illusionism and has an unavoidable surreality. The making-of aspect is fascinating. This is a good book for the general museum audience but especially for educators, scientists, artists and taxidermists.
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