The lion diorama at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.
One of the advantages of living 1 1/2 miles from the Museum and Zoo is that frequent drop-in trips are possible. I went by to check the Christmas sale at the gift shop where everything is 20% off to Members and, of course I took my camera. I always go by some of my favorite dioramas. This time I strolled through the Africa hall. I am still amazed at how real the scenes appear. My husband, a docent at the museum, told me that the tour committee had decided to discontinue a tour called "What's Real? What's Not?" Perhaps it was not considered "Scientific" enough but I liked hearing how the dioramas were made.
The actual dioramas are only six to eight feet deep but the painted backgrounds make it look like you are viewing into the distance. All of the materials used in the dioramas are man-made except the tanned skins of the animals. If real plants were used, they would decay and the gas would cloud the glass windows of the enclosure--as well as require constant cleaning and upkeep. All plants are painted plastic or vinyl molded into the shapes of trees, rocks, leaves etc. The backgrounds were all painted by professional museum artists. Even the forms on which the animal skins are placed are man-made. It was a very time-consuming and expensive process. That is why the process is rarely used in newer museums. This dioramas in this museum were built at a time when the process was more affordable and fewer animals were endangered.
Dioramas are a great teaching tool for classes and a wonderful opportunity to sketch animals that won't move while you are sketching. We are indeed privileged to have this wonderful insitution just over a mile down the road.
Just a portion of the largest diorama in the museum--The Savuti Watering Hole.