Proceedings of the First Park Naturalists’ Training Conference, November 1 to 30, 1929



By Dorr G. Yeager

1. PLANTS: Several methods of preparation of plants for exhibition purposes have been used in the past. Good exhibits have been prepared by placing plants carefully pressed in Rikor Mounts and displaying them in racks prepared especially for the purpose. This is one of the most effective and simple of all the exhibits.

Some exceptionally fine work has been carried out in wax flowers at the different museums throughout the country. I have in mind an exhibit at the Field Museum in Chicago. Fungi have yielded well to this method of treatment. However, the wax preparation is an exceptionally difficult one and unless some one from the outside is brought in for the express purpose of making wax vegetation it is not advisable to attempt extensive work of this sort.

Another method of preparing material, especially for use in cases where vegetation is required, is the processing method. In this case, the vegetation is placed in a solution of acetone, glycerine and alcohol for a certain period. After the vegetation has been left in this solution for several days it is removed, thoroughly washed, and dried. It is then painted the desired color, as the solution has the tendency to bleach the foliage. It is desirable to use a small spray brush in this painting for the sake of saving time. This method, although it sounds complicated, is simple and easily carried through. When treated in this manner the vegetation lasts for an indefinite period in a good state of preservation. Complete instructions for this method are to be found in Rowley’s “Taxidermy and Museum Technique.”

2. STUDY SKINS AND MOUNTED SPECIMENS: There seems to be very little which can be said in a paper of this type on the preparation of mounts and study skins. The methods of mounting vary greatly, as do the effects obtained. Only practice makes a taxidermist, coupled with powers of observing the natural positions of the living specimen. Many books have been written on this subject but it is not possible to make mounts from reading them. Ideas may be gained it is true, but in order to make good mounts it is necessary to practice and keep on practicing.

The matter of making study skins is less difficult, although, as in mounted specimens, practice makes perfect. The matter of study skins has been treated at length in books on the subject. Methods vary; some taxidermists prefer a “round” skin while others prefer the “flat.” Needless to say, each skin should be well labeled with the name, date, locality, sex, and collector. Many skins that are too badly shot or torn to be used as mounts may be made into very presentable study skins.