Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Adventures in taxidermy

By Meredith Deliso

Hey, Brooklyn taxidermists, you’re doing it wrong.

The animal preservation hobby has seen a resurgence of late, thanks to the popularity of taxidermy contests, classes at the Observatory in Gowanus, and its general proliferation in restaurants, bars and stores (Urban Outfitters, anyone?).

But for the real thing, budding taxidermists should take a page from Melissa Milgrom — literally.

Her new book, “Still Life: Adventures in Taxidermy,” follows eccentric naturalists and gifted museum artisans — all devoted to preserving the dead in the most lifelike way possible.

It’s a far cry from the local version consisting of kitschy contests or artsy classes — where taxidermy is defined as dressing up dead mice like dolls.

“In Brooklyn, we have a more expansive definition of taxidermy,” said the Brooklyn Heights author, who derides such taxidermy contests as the “American Idol” of taxidermy. “There’s a couple here, but I would put them more in the artist camp.”

For a taste of the real thing, head to powerHouse Arena in DUMBO on Thursday, where the author celebrates the paperback release of her book with a lecture ranging from the Victorian-era Mr. Potter’s Museum of Curiosities to Damien Hirst’s taxidermic cows.

“Taxidermy has a fascinating history. Darwin did taxidermy,” said Milgrom. “Today it’s kind of a lost art form, but there’s definitely an appreciation of it again, even if it’s twisted.”

Melissa Milgrom at powerHouse Arena [37 Main St. at Water Street in DUMBO, (718) 666-3049], March 10 at 7 pm. Free. For info, visit


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