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Museum Conserves Rare Passenger Pigeon

In preparation for the upcoming exhibition, Debut: Recent Acquisitions, the museum worked with a conservator to stabilize a rare 19th-century taxidermied passenger pigeon in our permanent collections. The specimen will be displayed alongside a recent acquisition, a 1754 print of a passenger pigeon by the renowned natural historian, Mark Catesby.

The passenger pigeon, which went extinct in 1914, is one of the most popular objects in the museum’s collections for teaching. A tremendous number of university classes from disciplines as broad as Philosophy and Wildlife & Fisheries have used the bird in object-based learning sessions discussing animal extinction, changing attitudes towards the environment, and human impact on the natural world. However, the pigeon’s claw was at risk of coming detached from its ankle, making it too fragile to pull for classes or exhibition.

Passenger Pigeon

Damage to the pigeon’s claw kept it from being displayed or used in teaching.

The conservator was able to clean the pigeon and secure the ankle to prevent further deformation and separation of the tissue. Support from generous donors like you makes crucial collections care work like this possible.