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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 27 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 (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #583,032 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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
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
This book is beyond wonderful! For anyone who grew up in New York City, and visited the Museum of Natural History (school trip?) this will bring back memories of standing in front of these huge, realistic dioramas with your mouth open! Guests of the Museum hardly ever think how they got there, who painted them, how they did the research. This book will make you fall in love all over again. Hard to believe that these marvelous paintings were done 50-75 years ago, and they have never been moved out for a more modern exhibit! That's classy!
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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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