Modeling Animals in the Bernard Family Hall of North American Mammals

On Exhibit posts

The dioramas in the Jill and Lewis Bernard Family Hall of North American Mammals have always been splendid, but after more than a year of painstaking restoration, they look better than ever. A multi-video series, now on and on the Museum's YouTube channel, documents their renovation.

How did Museum taxidermists and artists create true-to-life specimens for the hall's habitat dioramas, including the evocative cougar (mountain lion) diorama, seen below?

Cougar (Mountain Lion) diorama

A pair of cougars rests in the Arizona shade in this diorama in the Bernard Family Hall of North American Mammals.

© AMNH/C. Chesek

In this video, Exhibition Senior Project Manager and artist Stephen C. Quinn explains the multi-step process by which Museum artists—including Carl Akeley, for whom the Akeley Hall of African Mammals is named, and Robert Rockwell, who worked on the Hall of North American Mammals—created hyper-realistic specimens, and posed them in the dioramas in "arrested motion," to provide visitors with a view into wild animals' lives they might otherwise never see. 

For more images of the hall’s celebrated dioramas, behind-the-scenes videos, archival photos, and more, download the official Hall of North American Mammals app, for iOS or Android.

Visit the fully restored Bernard Family Hall of North American Mammals, now open.

To watch the full video series, visit

Tags: Dioramas