Preserved for posterity

By Christian BlockLex Kleren Switch to German for original article

At the National Museum of Natural History, Guillaume Becker makes taxidermy models of species that can otherwise only be seen from a distance – or that are already extinct. But the profession, which is also relevant to science, is in danger of disappearing.

The goshawk has settled on a branch. From here, its reddish eyes have everything in view. At any moment, the agile bird of prey could fly off to pierce its next prey with its long, black claws.

At least in the imagination of its observers. Because the animals that land in Guillaume Becker's studio at the naturmusée are dead. His job is to revive foxes, rabbits, lizards, predatory worms and the like in a different form. So that visitors to the Musée national d'histoire naturelle (mnhn) can get a glimpse of the beauty and diversity of those animals that otherwise take flight at the sound of even the most careful footsteps – or that you as a walker would rather not encounter in the forest anyway.

Becker has been employed as a taxidermist at the naturmusée for about two years. The timing turned out to be a stroke of luck. Guillaume Becker estimates that about three quarters of his colleagues work freelance and run their own studios. Their main source of income is hunting. "Almost all of the private studios work for hunters", he says, "who then prepare hunting trophies and, to a small extent, domestic animals. Other clients are museums or decoration shops, albeit to a lesser extent.

You want more? Get access now.

  • One-year subscription

  • Monthly subscription

  • Zukunftsabo for subscribers under the age of 26


Already have an account?

Log in