This is a tribute to the spooky charm of the Diorama, seen here in a FORTUNE article about the Chicago Field Museum of Natural History of 1937. The interplay between Taxidermy and the Living Spectator is a marvel to behold. Well intentioned though they be, Dioramas are always unpersuasive, but that is the charm. The spatial illusions are delightful but highly artificial - the simulations of human beings uniformly comic. Because it is History, the figures are permanently meaningful, and the poor Neanderthals are trapped into significance.

As Dioramas age, they get better. The paint on the background peels, the gloom of the background gets darker and more ominous. The faces which, from a perspective of 1937 looked authentic, now look just caricatural. And the wigs never hold to a single position.


I vote for the Diorama. The back button above will take you to the Tableaux menu where you can make comparisons.