A Diorama Takes Shape

Bringing the Genius of James Perry Wilson to Life

During this new exhibit visitors saw a diorama created before their eyes! Michael Anderson, the Museum's preparator built a foreground for a diorama painting the Museum recently acquired. The painting, by world-renowned diorama painter James Perry Wilson, is of the warbler migration at Point Pelee in southwestern Ontario. Measuring over 9 feet tall and nearly 8 feet wide, it is an exquisite example of Wilson's work that ranks alongside the spectacular dioramas he produced for the Peabody's third floor diorama halls

Wilson's dioramas are based on specific sites, chosen not only to be appropriate for the animals on display but also for their natural beauty. Point Pelee is renowned as the best location in inland North America to observe the northward migration of songbirds especially the diversity and huge numbers of warbler species on their way north from Central and South America. (This migration can also be seen at East Rock Park in New Haven). The exhibit included a scale model for the Bighorn sheep diorama (on display on the third floor of the Museum), which illustrates how Wilson managed the complexities of painting on a curved surface, as well as a short film on diorama making and Michael Anderson's own work.

At the end of the exhibit the diorama went into storage, to be reinstalled soon in the Bird Hall. This was a unique opportunity to see what normally goes on 'behind the scenes' as Michael, and trained volunteers, spent two months preparing plants and other foreground elements.


Check out Michael's blog on the project!

Also check out Michael Anderson's Book on James Perry Wilson.

The Museum would like to thank the Canadian Museum of Nature on Ottawa, and their director Joanne Dicosimo, for their generous donation of the diorama painting