Off the wall: The study and repair of a shattered taxidermy Mouflon shoulder mount

Nicole Feldman, Fran Ritchie, and Julia Sybalsky


After falling from the wall, this shattered Mouflon shoulder mount was believed to be beyond repair. The hardware securing it had failed, rendering it into approximately 50 major fragments and dozens of smaller ones. Some were irretrievable. The majority of its left side was in pieces, both ears and the left horn were fully detached, and there were large tears in the skin on the right and dorsal sides. The mount remained in this state for several years; though a successful repair seemed nearly impossible, this ancestor of the domestic sheep is on the endangered species list, so it was not discarded.

The mount was selected for study during a semester-long course on the conservation of natural science materials at New York University’s Conservation Program. The damaged condition of the mount provided a rare opportunity to observe the internal construction of its manikin. Devising a treatment plan for this composite object of skin, fur, bone, horn, resin, plaster, clay, and glass was a complex endeavor. Nevertheless, using common conservation adhesives (Paraloid B-72, Lascaux 498HV), large sections of the brittle skin fragments, manikin materials, bone, and horn could be reattached simultaneously with delicate balancing. Loss compensation was executed using pigmented resin (BEVA 371) flocked with hairs from commercial scraps of deer, skunk, javelina and goat. Original and restored areas were integrated by toning with stable colorants (QoR paints, Faber-Castell Pitt Artists Pens). With effort and the aid of well-established conservation materials, this severely damaged mount, initially assumed to be unsalvageable, was restored to its previous glory so that it may continue to provide aesthetic and scientific value.

2021 | Virtual | Volume 28