A diorama is a replica of a scene, typically a three-dimensional full-size or miniature model, sometimes enclosed in a glass showcase for a museum. Dioramas are often built by hobbyists as part of related hobbies such as military vehicle modeling, miniature figure modeling, or aircraft modeling.[ citation needed ]
In the United States around 1950 and onward, natural history dioramas in museums became less fashionable, leading to many being removed, dismantled or destroyed.
The word "diorama" originated in 1823 as a type of picture-viewing device, from the French in 1822. The word literally means "through that which is seen", from the Greek di- "through" + orama "that which is seen, a sight". The diorama was invented by Louis Daguerre and Charles Marie Bouton, first exhibited in Paris in July 1822 and at The Diorama, Regent's Park on September 29, 1823.[ citation needed ] The meaning "small-scale replica of a scene, etc." is from 1902.
Daguerre's and Bouton's diorama consisted of a piece of material painted on both sides. When illuminated from the front, the scene would be shown in one state and by switching to illumination from behind another phase or aspect would be seen. Scenes in daylight changed to moonlight, a train travelling on a track would crash, or an earthquake would be shown in before and after pictures.
The current, popular understanding of the term "diorama" denotes a partially three-dimensional, full-size replica or scale model of a landscape typically showing historical events, nature scenes or cityscapes, for purposes of education or entertainment.
One of the first uses of dioramas in a museum was in Stockholm, Sweden, where the Biological Museum opened in 1893. It had several dioramas, over three floors. They were also implemented by the National Museum Grigore Antipa from Bucharest Romania and constituted a source of inspiration for many important museums in the world (such as the American Museum of Natural History in New York and the Great Oceanographic Museum in Berlin) [reference below].
Miniature dioramas are typically much smaller, and use scale models and landscaping to create historical or fictional scenes. Such a scale model-based diorama is used, for example, in Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry to display railroading. This diorama employs a common model railroading scale of 1:87 (HO scale). Hobbyist dioramas often use scales such as 1:35 or 1:48.
An early, and exceptionally large example was created between 1830 and 1838 by a British Army officer. William Siborne, and represents the Battle of Waterloo at about 7.45 pm, on 18 June 1815. 8.33 by 6 metres (27.3 by 19.7 ft) and used around 70,000 model soldiers in its construction. It is now part of the collection of the National Army Museum in London.The diorama measures
Sheperd Paine, a prominent hobbyist, popularized the modern miniature diorama beginning in the 1970s.[ citation needed ]
Modern museum dioramas may be seen in most major natural-history museums. Typically, these displays use a tilted plane to represent what would otherwise be a level surface, incorporate a painted background of distant objects, and often employ false perspective, carefully modifying the scale of objects placed on the plane to reinforce the illusion through depth perception in which objects of identical real-world size placed farther from the observer appear smaller than those closer. Often the distant painted background or sky will be painted upon a continuous curved surface so that the viewer is not distracted by corners, seams, or edges. All of these techniques are means of presenting a realistic view of a large scene in a compact space. A photograph or single-eye view of such a diorama can be especially convincing, since in this case there is no distraction by the binocular perception of depth.
Miniature dioramas may be used to represent scenes from historic events. A typical example of this type is the dioramas to be seen at Norway's Resistance Museum in Oslo, Norway.
Landscapes built around model railways can also be considered dioramas, even though they often have to compromise scale accuracy for better operating characteristics.
Hobbyists also build dioramas of historical or quasi-historical events using a variety of materials, including plastic models of military vehicles, ships or other equipment, along with scale figures and landscaping.
In the 19th and beginning 20th century, building dioramas of sailing ships had been a popular handcraft of mariners. Building a diorama instead of a normal model had the advantage that in the diorama, the model was protected inside the framework and could easily be stowed below the bunk or behind the sea chest. Nowadays, such antique sailing ship dioramas are valuable collectors' items.
One of the largest dioramas ever created[ citation needed ] was a model of the entire State of California built for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition of 1915 and that for a long time was installed in San Francisco's Ferry Building.
Dioramas are widely used in the American educational system, mostly in elementary and middle schools. They are often made to represent historical events, ecological biomes, cultural scenes, or to visually depict literature. They are usually made from a shoebox and contain a trompe-l'œil in the background contrasted with two or three-dimensional models in the foreground.
The Diorama was a popular entertainment that originated in Paris in 1822. An alternative to the also popular "Panorama" (panoramic painting), the Diorama was a theatrical experience viewed by an audience in a highly specialized theatre. As many as 350 patrons would file in to view a landscape painting that would change its appearance both subtly and dramatically. Most would stand, though limited seating was provided. The show lasted 10 to 15 minutes, after which time the entire audience (on a massive turntable) would rotate to view a second painting. Later models of the Diorama theater even held a third painting.
The size of the proscenium was 24 feet (7.3 m) wide by 21 feet (6.4 m) high (7.3 meters x 6.4 meters). Each scene was hand-painted on linen, which was made transparent in selected areas. A series of these multi-layered, linen panels were arranged in a deep, truncated tunnel, then illuminated by sunlight re-directed via skylights, screens, shutters, and colored blinds. Depending on the direction and intensity of the skillfully manipulated light, the scene would appear to change. The effect was so subtle and finely rendered that both critics and the public were astounded, believing they were looking at a natural scene.
The inventors and proprietors of the Diorama were Charles-Marie Bouton (1781– 1853), a Troubador painter who also worked at the Panorama under Pierre Prévost, and Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre (1787–1851), formerly a decorator, manufacturer of mirrors, painter of Panoramas, and designer and painter of theatrical stage illusions. Daguerre would later co-invent the daguerreotype, the first widely used method of photography.
A second diorama in Regent's Park in London was opened by an association of British men (having bought Daguerre's tableaux) in 1823, a year after the debut of Daguerre's Paris original.The building was designed by Augustus Charles Pugin. Bouton operated the Regent's Park diorama from 1930 to 1940, when it was taken over by his protégé, the painter Charles-Caïus Renoux.
The Regent's Park diorama was a popular sensation, and spawned immediate imitations. British artists like Clarkson Stanfield and David Roberts produced ever-more elaborate (moving) dioramas through the 1830s; sound effects and even living performers were added. Some "typical diorama effects included moonlit nights, winter snow turning into a summer meadow, rainbows after a storm, illuminated fountains," waterfalls, thunder and lightning, and ringing bells.A diorama painted by Daguerre is currently housed in the church of the French town Bry-sur-Marne, where he lived and died.
Exhibition venues : Paris (Pa.1822-28) : London (Lo.1823-32) : Liverpool (Li.1827-32) : Manchester (Ma.1825-27) : Dublin (Du.1826-28) : Edinburgh (Ed.1828-36)
Until 1968, Britain boasted a large collection of dioramas. These collections were originally housed in the Royal United Services Institute Museum, (formerly the Banqueting House), in Whitehall. When the museum closed, the various exhibits and their 15 known dioramas were distributed to smaller museums throughout England, some ending up in Canada and elsewhere. These dioramas were the brainchild of the wealthy furrier Otto Gottstein (1892–1951) of Leipzig, a Jewish immigrant from Hitler's Germany, who was an avid collector and designer of flat model figures called flats. In 1930, Gottstein's influence is first seen at the Leipzig International Exhibition, along with the dioramas of Hahnemann of Kiel, Biebel of Berlin and Muller of Erfurt, all displaying their own figures, and those commissioned from such as Ludwig Frank in large diorama form. In 1933, Gottstein left Germany, and in 1935 founded the British Model Soldier Society. Gottstein persuaded designer and painter friends in both Germany and France to help in the construction of dioramas depicting notable events in English history. But due to the war, many of the figures arrived in England incomplete. The task of turning Gottstein's ideas into reality fell to his English friends and those friends who had managed to escape from the Continent. Dennis (Denny) C. Stokes, a talented painter and diorama maker in his own right, was responsible for the painting of the backgrounds of all the dioramas, creating a unity seen throughout the whole series. Denny Stokes was given the overall supervision of the fifteen dioramas.
Krunert, Schirmer, Frank, Frauendorf, Maier, Franz Rieche, and Oesterrich were also involved in the manufacture and design of figures for the various dioramas. Krunert (a Viennese), like Gottstein an exile in London, was given the job of engraving for The Battle of Quebec. The Death of Wolfe was found to be inaccurate and had to be redesigned. The names of the vast majority of painters employed by Gottstein are mostly unknown, most lived and worked on the continent, among them Gustave Kenmow, Leopold Rieche, L. Dunekate, M. Alexandre, A. Ochel, Honey Ray, and, perhaps Gottstein's top painter, Vladimir Douchkine (a Russian émigré who lived in Paris). Douchkine was responsible for painting two figures of the Duke of Marlborough on horseback for ‘The Blenheim Diorama’, one of which was used, the other, Gottstein being the true collector, was never released.
Denny Stokes painted all the backgrounds of all the dioramas, Herbert Norris, the Historical Costume Designer, whom Dr. J. F. Lovel-Barnes introduced to Gottstein, was responsible for the costume design of the Ancient Britons, the Normans and Saxons, some of the figures of The Field of the Cloth of Gold and the Elizabethan figures for Queen Elizabeth at Tilbury. Dr. J.F. Lovel-Barnes was responsible for The Battle of Blenheim, selecting the figures, and arrangement of the scene. Due to World War II, when flat figures became unavailable, Gottstein completed his ideas by using Greenwood and Ball's 20 mm figures. In time, a fifteenth diorama was added, using these 20 mm figures, this diorama representing the D-Day landings. When all the dioramas were completed, they were displayed along one wall in the Royal United Services Institute Museum. When the museum was closed the fifteen dioramas were distributed to various museums and institutions. The greatest number are to be found at the Glenbow Museum, (130-9th Avenue, S. E. Calgary, Alberta, Canada): RE: The Landing of the Romans under Julius Caesar in 55 BC, Bttle Of Crecy, The Battle of Blenheim, The Old Guard at Waterloo and The Charge of the Light Brigade at Balaclava.
The state of these dioramas is one of debate; John Garratt (The World of Model Soldiers) claimed in 1968, that the dioramas "appear to have been partially broken up and individual figures have been sold to collectors". According to the Glenbow Institute (Barry Agnew, curator) "the figures are still in reasonable condition, but the plaster groundwork has suffered considerable deterioration". There are no photographs available of the dioramas. The Battle of Hastings diorama was to be found in the Old Town Museum, Hastings, and is still in reasonable condition. It shows the Norman cavalry charging up Senlac Hill toward the Saxon lines. The Storming of Acre is in the Museum of Artillery at the Rotunda, Woolwich. John Garratt, in Encyclopedia of Model Soldiers, states that The Field of the Cloth of Gold was in the possession of the Royal Military School of Music, Kneller Hall; according to the curator, the diorama had not been in his possession since 1980, nor is it listed in their Accession Book, so the whereabouts of this diorama is unknown.
The Battle of Ulundi is housed in the Staffordshire Regiment Museum at Whittington near Lichfield in Staffordshire, UK
San Francisco, California artist Frank Wong (born 22 September 1932) created miniature dioramas that depict the San Francisco Chinatown of his youth during the 1930s and 1940s.In 2004, Wong donated seven miniatures of scenes of Chinatown, titled "The Chinatown Miniatures Collection", to Chinese Historical Society of America (CHSA). The dioramas are on permanent display in CHSA's Main Gallery:
San Francisco filmmaker James Chan is producing and directing a documentary about Wong and the "changing landscape of Chinatown" in San Francisco.The documentary is tentatively titled, "Frank Wong's Chinatown".
Painters of the Romantic era like John Martin and Francis Danby were influenced to create large and highly dramatic pictures by the sensational dioramas and panoramas of their day. In one case, the connection between life and diorama art became intensely circular. On 1 February 1829, John Martin's brother Jonathan, known as "Mad Martin," set fire to the roof of York Minster. Clarkson Stanfield created a diorama re-enactment of the event, which premiered on 20 April of the same year; it employed a "safe fire" via chemical reaction as a special effect. On 27 May, the "safe" fire proved to be less safe than planned: it set a real fire in the painted cloths of the imitation fire, which burned down the theater and all of its dioramas.
Nonetheless, dioramas remained popular in England, Scotland, and Ireland through most of the 19th century, lasting until 1880.
A small scale version of the diorama called the Polyrama Panoptique could display images in the home and was marketed from the 1820s.
Natural history dioramas seek to imitate nature and, since their conception in the late 19th century, aim to "nurture a reverence for nature [with its] beauty and grandeur".They have also been described as a means to visually preserve nature as different environments change due to human involvement. They were extremely popular during the first half of the 20th century, both in the US and UK, later on giving way to television, film, and new perspectives on science.
Like historical dioramas, natural history dioramas are a mix of two- and three-dimensional elements. What sets natural history dioramas apart from other categories is the use of taxidermy in addition to the foreground replicas and painted background. The use of taxidermy means that natural history dioramas derive not only from Daguerre's work, but also from that of taxidermists, who were used to preparing specimens for either science or spectacle. It was only with the dioramas' precursors (and, later on, dioramas) that both these objectives merged. Popular diorama precursors were produced by Charles Willson Peale, an artist with an interest in taxidermy, during the early 19th century. To present his specimens, Peale "painted skies and landscapes on the back of cases displaying his taxidermy specimens".By the late 19th century, the British Museum held an exhibition featuring taxidermy birds set on models of plants.
The first habitat diorama created for a museum was constructed by taxidermist Carl Akeley for the Milwaukee Public Museum in 1889,where it is still held. Akeley set taxidermy muskrats in a three-dimensional re-creation of their wetland habitat with a realistic painted background. With the support of curator Frank M. Chapman, Akeley designed the popular habitat dioramas featured at the American Museum of Natural History. Combining art with science, these exhibitions were intended to educate the public about the growing need for habitat conservation. The modern AMNH Exhibitions Lab is charged with the creation of all dioramas and otherwise immersive environments in the museum.
A predecessor of Akeley, naturalist and taxidermist Martha Maxwell created a famous habitat diorama for the first World's Fair in 1876. The complex diorama featured taxidermied animals in realistic action poses, running water, and live prairie dogs.It is speculated that this display was the first of its kind [outside of a museum]. Maxwell's pioneering diorama work is said to have influenced major figures in taxidermy history who entered the field later, such as Akeley and William Temple Hornaday.
Soon, the concern for accuracy came. Groups of scientists, taxidermists, and artists would go on expeditions to ensure accurate backgrounds and collect specimens,though some would be donated by game hunters. Natural history dioramas reached the peak of their grandeur with the opening of the Akeley Hall of African Mammals in 1936, which featured large animals, such as elephants, surrounded by even larger scenery. Nowadays, various institutions lay different claims to notable dioramas. The Milwaukee Public Museum still displays the world's first diorama, created by Akeley; the American Museum of Natural History, in New York, has what might be the world's largest diorama: a life-size replica of a blue whale; the Biological Museum in Stockholm, Sweden is known for its three dioramas, all created in 1893, and all in original condition; the Powell-Cotton Museum, in Kent, UK, is known for having the world's oldest, unchanged, room-sized diorama, built in 1896.
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Natural history dioramas typically consist of 3 parts:
Preparations for the background begin in the field,where an artist takes photographs and sketches references pieces. Once back at the museum, the artist has to depict the scenery with as much realism as possible. The challenge lies in the fact that the wall used is curved: this allows the background to surround the display without seams joining different panels. At times the wall also curves upward to meet the light above and form a sky. By having a curved wall, whatever the artist paints will be distorted by perspective; it is the artist's job to paint in such a way that minimises this distortion.
The foreground is created to mimic the ground, plants and other accessories to scenery. The ground, hills, rocks, and large trees are created with wood, wire mesh, and plaster. Smaller trees are either used in their entirety or replicated using casts. Grasses and shrubs can be preserved in solution or dried to then be added to the diorama. Ground debris, such as leaf litter, is collected on site and soaked in wallpaper paste for preservation and presentation in the diorama. Water is simulated using glass or plexiglass with ripples carved on the surface. For a diorama to be successful, the foreground and background must merge, so both artists have to work together.
Taxidermy specimens are usually the centrepiece of dioramas. Since they must entertain, as well as educate, specimens are set in lifelike poses, so as to convey a narrative of an animal's life. Smaller animals are usually made with rubber moulds and painted. Larger animals are prepared by first making a clay sculpture of the animal. This sculpture is made over the actual, posed skeleton of the animal, with reference to moulds and measurements taken on the field. A papier-mâché mannequin is prepared from the clay sculpture, and the animal's tanned skin is sewn onto the mannequin. Glass eyes substitute the real ones.
If an animal is large enough, the scaffolding that holds the specimen needs to be incorporated into the foreground design and construction.
Lego dioramas are dioramas that are built from Lego pieces.These dioramas range from small vignettes to large, table-sized displays, and are sometimes constructed in a collaboration of two or more people. Some AFOL engage in the building of Lego dioramas.
Panoramic paintings are massive artworks that reveal a wide, all-encompassing view of a particular subject, often a landscape, military battle, or historical event. They became especially popular in the 19th century in Europe and the United States, inciting opposition from some writers of Romantic poetry. A few have survived into the 21st century and are on public display. Typically shown in rotundas for viewing, panoramas were meant to be so lifelike they confused the spectator between what was real and what was image.
Taxidermy is the art of preserving an animal's body via mounting or stuffing, for the purpose of display or study. Animals are often, but not always, portrayed in a lifelike state. The word taxidermy describes the process of preserving the animal, but the word is also used to describe the end product, which are called taxidermy mounts or referred to simply as "taxidermy". The word taxidermy is derived from the Greek words taxis and derma. Taxis means "arrangement", and derma means "skin". The word taxidermy translates to "arrangement of skin".
Forced perspective is a technique which employs optical illusion to make an object appear farther away, closer, larger or smaller than it actually is. It manipulates human visual perception through the use of scaled objects and the correlation between them and the vantage point of the spectator or camera. It has uses in photography, filmmaking and architecture.
Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre was a French artist and photographer, recognized for his invention of the eponymous daguerreotype process of photography. He became known as one of the fathers of photography. Though he is most famous for his contributions to photography, he was also an accomplished painter, scenic designer, and a developer of the diorama theatre.
The American Museum of Natural History is a natural history museum on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in New York City. In Theodore Roosevelt Park, across the street from Central Park, the museum complex comprises 26 interconnected buildings housing 45 permanent exhibition halls, in addition to a planetarium and a library. The museum collections contain over 34 million specimens of plants, animals, fossils, minerals, rocks, meteorites, human remains, and human cultural artifacts, as well as specialized collections for frozen tissue and genomic and astrophysical data, of which only a small fraction can be displayed at any given time. The museum occupies more than 2 million square feet (190,000 m2). AMNH has a full-time scientific staff of 225, sponsors over 120 special field expeditions each year, and averages about five million visits annually.
Carl Ethan Akeley was a pioneering American taxidermist, sculptor, biologist, conservationist, inventor, and nature photographer, noted for his contributions to American museums, most notably to the Milwaukee Public Museum, Field Museum of Natural History and the American Museum of Natural History. He is considered the father of modern taxidermy. He was the founder of the AMNH Exhibitions Lab, the interdisciplinary department that fuses scientific research with immersive design.
1:144 scale is a scale used for some scale models such as micro/mini armor. 1:144 means that the dimensions of the model are 1/144 (0.00694) the dimensions of the original life-sized object; this equates to a scale of 1/2 inch per 6 feet of original dimension. For instance, an airplane 30 feet (9.14 m) in length would be a mere 2.5 inches (63.5 mm) long as a 1:144 scale model.
The Denver Museum of Nature & Science is a municipal natural history and science museum in Denver, Colorado. It is a resource for informal science education in the Rocky Mountain region. A variety of exhibitions, programs, and activities help museum visitors learn about the natural history of Colorado, Earth, and the universe. The 716,000-square-foot (66,519 m2) building houses more than one million objects in its collections including natural history and anthropological materials, as well as archival and library resources.
The Iziko South African Museum is a South African national museum located in Cape Town. The museum was founded in 1825, the first in the country. It has been on its present site in the Company's Garden since 1897. The museum houses important African zoology, palaeontology and archaeology collections.
James Lippitt Clark was a distinguished American explorer, sculptor and scientist.
Martha Ann Maxwell was an American naturalist, artist and taxidermist. She helped found modern taxidermy. Maxwell's pioneering diorama displays are said to have influenced major figures in taxidermy history who entered the field later, such as William Temple Hornaday and Carl Akeley. She was born in Pennsylvania in 1831. Among her many accomplishments, she is credited with being the first woman field naturalist to obtain and prepare her own specimens. She was inducted into the Colorado Women's Hall of Fame in 1985.
Booth Museum of Natural History is a charitable trust managed, municipally-owned museum of natural history in the city of Brighton and Hove in the South East of England. Its focus is on Victorian taxidermy especially of British birds, as well as collections focusing on Entomology, chalk fossils, skeletons and botany. It is part of "Royal Pavilion & Museums Trust". Admission to the museum is free.
Taxidermy, or the process of preserving animal skin together with its feathers, fur, or scales, is an art whose existence has been short compared to forms such as painting, sculpture, and music. The word derives from two Greek words: taxis, meaning order, preparation, and arrangement and derma, meaning skin. Directly translated, taxidermy means "skin art."
Howard Sheperd "Shep" Paine was a military historian and a collector of militaria who probably is best known for the more than three decades he spent as a modeler, sculptor, miniature figure painter, and champion of the diorama. Paine arguably did more than anyone else to forward the unique hobby/art form of military miniatures around the world, through his own pieces, his numerous "how-to" hobby books, and his championing of the "open system" of judging in use at many of the most prestigious modeling shows and exhibitions today.
There have been attempts to categorise taxidermy in both artistic and scientific terms for over a century. An 1896 review of Montagu Browne’s Artistic and Scientific Taxidermy and Modelling notes that “Any work which will aid in more clearly defining the difference between the art of taxidermy and the trade of taxidermy is to be welcomed.” Stephen T. Asma suggests that natural history museums are places where the art and science of taxidermy work in tandem. He writes, “natural history museums are inherently aesthetic representations of science in particular and conceptual ideas in general.” Asma also notes the taxidermy of Carl Ethan Akeley (1864-1926). Akeley’s work is known for merging the science and artistry of taxidermy through his “revolutionary action-pose techniques.” It is suggested that, “Akeley’s artistic powers were heightened by his firsthand studies of animal anatomy and animal behaviour.”
Louis Paul Jonas was an American sculptor of wildlife, taxidermist, and natural history exhibit designer.
Frank Wong is a San Francisco, California artist who creates miniature dioramas that depict the San Francisco Chinatown of Wong's youth during the 1930s and 1940s. His works include his grandmother's kitchen, the family's living room at Christmas, an herb shop, Chinese laundry, shoeshine stand, and life in a single room occupancy hotel common in Chinatown.
The conservation of taxidermy is the ongoing maintenance and preservation of zoological specimens that have been mounted or stuffed for display and study. Taxidermy specimens contain a variety of organic materials, such as fur, bone, feathers, skin, and wood, as well as inorganic materials, such as burlap, glass, and foam. Due to their composite nature, taxidermy specimens require special care and conservation treatments for the different materials.
Sinclair Nathaniel Clark was a legendary taxidermy tanner, known throughout that industry for his expertise in tanning animal skins to give them the suppleness that taxidermists require to create lifelike, long-lasting displays. Tanning is the process of treating animal skins and hides for display and preservation. Because tanning is a behind-the-scenes operation of taxidermy, tanners are seldom known outside the industry.
Lion Attacking a Dromedary is an orientalist diorama by French taxidermist Édouard Verreaux in the collection of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. It depicts a fictional scene of a man on a dromedary struggling to fend off an attack by a Barbary lion.
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