Taxidermy Exhibit at the Pioneer Museum in Lander

-Exhibit features the infamous two-faced sheep

Here in Wyoming we are used to seeing big game animals mounted on walls. Taxidermy is part of our culture, but the art of taxidermy has been around in one form or another for thousands of years.

The ancient Egyptians practiced a form of taxidermy, mummifying animals to be buried with their owners, and in the Middle Ages alchemists and magicians used dangerous chemicals to preserve animals for wealthy clients.

In 18th century America almost every town had a tannery to preserve hides. Hunters began taking these preserved hides to upholsterers who would actually sew up animal skins and stuff them with rags or cotton. The term “stuffing” or “stuffed animal” came from this crude form of taxidermy. Modern taxidermy is much more refined using lifelike foam molds to mount the tanned hides on, but the idea of preserving a trophy is an old one.

Numerous taxidermy shops operated in Lander in the early days of the community. One of the biggest was a firm called Rhodes and Gilbert, opened by Swine Rhodes in 1901. His shop was located on the east side of the Popo Agie River to the north of the road, near where the Pronghorn Lodge sits today. The shop did taxidermy for local hunters, as well as providing mounts for lodges, hotels and business’ all over the state.

A new temporary display at the Pioneer Museum explores the history of taxidermy and features some unique examples of the art. The display is in the main lobby of the museum through October. The display features a deformed lamb that was born with four ears and three eyes, a jackalope and other examples of the taxidermist’s art.

The Pioneer Museum’s summer hours are Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.

Call the museum at 307-332-3373 for more information, or visit the museum Facebook page: Pioneer Museum Lander Wyoming.


Photo caption: This 4 eared, three eyed lamb was born in 1969, but only lived three days. It became a popular attraction at the old Pioneer Museum, but has been in storage for many years.