Home » Exhibitions & Events » Monday Evening Xplorations » Stuffed Kittens and Rabbit Schoolhouses: Walter Potter and his Fantastical Taxidermy

Stuffed Kittens and Rabbit Schoolhouses: Walter Potter and his Fantastical Taxidermy

Monday, August 19 at 5:00 pm

(Book-signing after the program)

Joanna Ebenstein

Walter Potter (1835-1918), an amateur English taxidermist of no great expertise, became famous as an icon of Victorian whimsy with his anthropomorphic creations. Multi-legged kittens, two-headed lambs and a bewildering assortment of curios crammed his tiny museum in Bramber, Sussex, and inspired future generations of taxidermists to come.

The curious world of Potter’s museum was permanently closed to the public in the ’70s, after which time it was variously re-established before being auctioned off in 2003. It was reported that a £1M bid by Damien Hirst to keep the collection intact was refused, but in 2010 many of Potter’s key pieces were exhibited by the artist Sir Peter Blake at London’s ‘Museum of Everything’, attracting over 30,000 visitors in 6 weeks. The subsequent dispersal of Potter’s works has meant the loss of a truly unique Victorian cultural institution.

 

Joanna Ebenstein is a Brooklyn-based writer, curator, artist, and graphic designer. She is the creator of the Morbid Anatomy blog, library, and event series, and was cofounder and creative director of the recently shuttered Morbid Anatomy Museum in Brooklyn. She is author of The Anatomical Venus, editor of Death: A Graveside Companion and co-author, with Dr. Pat Morris, of “Walter Potter’s Curious World of Taxidermy”. Her writing and photography have been published and exhibited internationally. Her work explores the intersections of art and medicine, death and culture, and the objective and subjective.

Photo by: Laetitia Barbier