Helping to Preserve a Legacy ⎢The Natural History Dioramas of James Perry Wilson and Ralph Morrill

Few would argue that the highest standard in the creation of natural history dioramas was achieved by James Perry Wilson and Ralph Morrill.

James Perry Wilson in Mule Deer diorama at the American Museum of Natural History, 1943. Photograph by Thanos Johnson

James Perry Wilson in Mule Deer diorama at the American Museum of Natural History, 1943.
Photograph by Thanos Johnson

When you stand in front of them, you feel like you are looking into miles of landscape. But just beyond the animals and faux foreground, you are looking at a vertical painting, which recreates in painstaking detail the atmosphere, flora, and geology of the native and natural environment of the species exhibited.

Story Preservation was at Yale University in early 2013 recording Ruth Morrill, widow of Ralph Morrill, and Peabody Museum preparator, Michael Anderson.  While Michael led the interview session, his voice is not heard in the audio as it was Ruth who was both present and participated in the creation of these magnificent works of art and science.

Ruth worked with her husband and James Perry Wilson and shared both her memories as well as knowledge of this fascinating art.

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A Dual-Grid System for Diorama Layout by Ruth Morrill, which outlines the methods used by James Perry Wilson can be read here:  

Preparing a grid

A Dual-Grid System for Diorama Layout 

Ruth is sending along a children’s book that she wrote about creating dioramas.  When received, we’ll pass it along.

Wilson’s dioramas – and legacy – have also been preserved thanks to the efforts of Michael Anderson, who has authored several books on the artist.

To listen to Ruth’s story, click here: 

Copyright Story Preservation Initiative.  All rights reserved.  2013. 

Stories Matter

 

 

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