I’ve written here a few times about how much I value the Natural History Museum on the University of Kansas campus. The story goes that I found out my neighbor also had a jackalope tattoo, and in talking he told me I had to go to Lawrence, KS, to see some of the only “real jackalopes.” I was going on a road trip that summer, so I stopped in Lawrence to see them. That particular floor of the museum was closed, but we finagled our way up there and saw him, that little guy from Wichita with “horns” sticking out from his face. When we visited Kansas later to choose a city to move to, the museum was re-opened and I got to see the rest of the displays. I remember being so happy that I was in tears. I felt a connection to this place and wanted to be near it, so for that and other reasons, we moved to Lawrence.
The museum is home to an incredible panoramic display of mammals, created by Lewis Lindsay Dyche, under some instruction by the well-known taxidermist, William Temple Hornaday. The panorama appeared at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. I’ve really never seen anything else like it.
Nat and I signed up for a tour of the mammals collection at KU last weekend, but probably since it was such a beautiful day, we were the only ones who showed up! So we had a private tour of the collection (the second-largest collection of mammals in the country) led by curator, Bob Timm. We got to see the most awesome things! And, of course, I asked to see other “jackalope” specimens from the collection (in case you were wondering, the growths are tumors caused by the Shope’s Papilloma virus, which only affects rabbits).
You can read a lot of interesting facts about the museum here, and if you live in eastern Kansas, the museum often has really cool events and tours that you can find out about on their website. During the Campus Art Walk next week and through the winter, “Macro/Micro: Collections Up Close,” an exhibition of images of specimens from the KU Biodiversity Institute and Natural History Museum collections by photographer Brian Goodman will be on display at the museum.