If you’ve ever been to the Natural History Museum, you’ve surely noticed the massive animal statue that greets visitors at the entrance. The question is, what animal is it?
Well, the answer is that there isn’t just one animal – there are actually two. The first and most prominent is a giant African elephant, standing at an impressive height of 14 feet and weighing in at 3 tons. The elephant was added to the museum’s entrance in 1936 and has since become an iconic symbol of the institution.
But that’s not all – there’s also a smaller statue of a Columbian mammoth standing next to the elephant. While not as attention-grabbing as its larger counterpart, the mammoth is still an important part of the museum’s collection.
Both statues were created by sculptor Carl Akeley, who was known for his lifelike depictions of animals. Akeley was actually a taxidermist by trade and had worked for many years at the Field Museum in Chicago before coming to New York to work on the Natural History Museum’s exhibits.
The decision to place an elephant at the entrance of the museum was a deliberate one – elephants are known for their intelligence and their long memories, which seemed fitting for an institution dedicated to preserving knowledge about the natural world. Additionally, elephants are a symbol of strength and longevity, which aligned with the museum’s mission of preserving specimens for future generations.
As for why Akeley included a mammoth alongside the elephant, it’s likely because mammoths were one of the most famous prehistoric creatures and were found in North America (whereas elephants are typically associated with Africa). Including both animals helped to represent different aspects of natural history.
In conclusion, if you’re ever visiting New York City and have a chance to visit the Natural History Museum, make sure to take a moment to appreciate these stunning statues. Not only are they beautiful works of art, but they also represent the museum’s dedication to preserving and educating about the natural world.