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Building a True-to-Life Butterfly for a Habitat Diorama

The next time that you’re in your local natural history museum, don’t just look at the large animals in the dioramas — really look for those hidden small animals, too: a brown-headed cowbird near a bison, a Botta’s pocket gopher peeking from a burrow, or a Blue Echo Butterfly on a flower. These smaller details in scenes get as much attention from museum staff as the central figures. 

Above, the American Museum of Natural History‘s Conservation Fellow Bethany Palumbo describes how she studied museum specimens of the Blue Echo to recreate it using a mix of photocopying, hand painting, and sculpting with layers of glue.

New York’s AMNH made a series of excellent videos about their dioramas from their 2012 restoration efforts

Every detail was studied for accuracy, down to the cougar’s whisker texture:

Even the shadows, background paintings, and native grasses demand proper attention to detail. After new, energy-efficient lights were installed, museum artist Stephen C. Quinn even altered the slight color variations of the crushed marble dust “snow” to better represent the moon shadows in the Wolf Diorama

Related watching: Ancient Ancestors Come to Life, How to Make a Large Crocodile Sculpture, Anatomy of Preservation, and Paleontology 101.

h/t Sagan Sense.

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