Taxonomy and Taxidermy

taxonomy in blue

I’m hopelessly behind on my blog posts.  The queue for museums alone is about a dozen long.  I blame it on my improving back.  I’ve been walking around without a cane for about a month now.  It feels great to just be up and walking without pain, to be able to sit for longer than 30 minutes without discomfort.  So I’m out and about like a man just released from prison.

The museum in this post is about the National Museum of Nature and Science in Ueno Park, in northeast Tokyo.  That’s where most of the national museums of Japan are located.  It was my first time to visit.  And as far as natural science museums go, it’s a pretty good one.

stuffed animals

The most impressive display at the museum is the comprehensive collection of stuffed mammals from around the world. It’s awe-inspiring to see how large some of these creatures are.  But I couldn’t help think about how each of these animals ended up there.  It’s morbid, but it would have been interesting to have a note about the source of each taxidermy victim. “Died of natural causes at the zoo” or “Shot by man with small penis” might be a few examples. This display alone is worth the visit to the museum.

taxonomy in blueblue whale

My other favorite exhibit is the taxonomy tree of the animal kingdom that lines the floor of one of the halls. It’s lit up in different colors according to phyla, and each branch ends at a display that shows what bacteria, bug or bird is the end species.


There were also the usual dinosaur skeletons, dioramas of prehistoric life, old machines and simplistic interactive gizmos that you find in many science museums. All of it was beautifully presented, in a lovely historic building that’s been newly renovated.