Could city life cause the demise of mighty elephants? In a recent review of the American Museum of Natural History’s Akeley Hall of African Mammals, staff discovered that the lighting in the dioramas generates too much heat, which has caused drying, shrinking, distortion, and fading of the specimens. In addition, the group of mounted elephants is not enclosed in an exhibit case and is subjected to the uncontrolled climate of the hall, which has led to damage to their ears and legs. The exposed collections accumulate dust, and years of routine dusting has abraded the surface of the elephant specimens.
The Museum hopes to raise funds to repair the damaged artifacts and to design a specialized environment for the long-term care of the mammal collection that will reduce heat generated by light in the exhibit cases and keep the temperature and humidity levels stable in the gallery.