Project Hyena Diorama: Indiegogo Campaign!


Somewhere deep in the halls of
the Field Museum in Chicago, there’s a diorama that’s missing. Legend has it that it’s been
hidden behind a wall in the Asian Hall of Mammals
for the last eighty-seven years. But where? Gaurs… Orangs… Diorama-sized green wall… Wait, diorama-sized green wall? It’s hollow. Let’s gut it! [Eleven minutes, seven seconds later] Behold! It’s the missing diorama space! But there’s something
not quite right here. Where’s the painted mural? Where’s the meticulously created
and scientifically accurate habitat? Where are all the taxidermied animals!? No, not you, Soon Raccoon. Wait, how’d you get in here? Could it have been stolen
by treasure hunters or lost at the bottom of Lake Michigan
in a pirate shipwreck? Maybe there was a diorama-sized rip
in the spacetime continuum. [In the mammal library at the Field Museum] It’s the 1920s. Construction starts on the dioramas
in the Asian Hall of Mammals: tapirs, sloth bears,
leopards, gibbons. In total, twenty are planned. Then: The Great Depression. Money runs out, people move on. Nineteen of the twenty
dioramas are finished; the last one is boarded up and left
untouched for eighty-seven years. So the way I see it, we’ve got an empty
diorama for the taking. Let’s fill it with something! But… what? [In the Hall of Reptiles at the Field Museum] American alligator… weird giant tadpole models… climbing lizards… striped hyenas… Striped hyenas?! What’re they doing here
in the Reptile Hall? Guys? Not just any striped hyenas,
Carl Akeley’s striped hyenas! Gadzooks! The year is 1896, and the Field’s
chief taxidermist Carl Akeley – pioneer of modern taxidermy,
inventor of a motion picture camera, cool friends with President
Teddy Roosevelt – accompanies a team to Africa on the world’s first American-led
museum expedition to Somaliland. In pursuit of animals wild and weird, they specifically search for the
endangered African wild ass. These animals were at risk for
extinction from a virus that had already wiped out
many species of buffaloes, antelope, deer and giraffes. In order to ensure that future generations
might study and know these species the expedition brings back a range
of specimens to the United States, including four striped hyenas. Also on this expedition: Akeley
famously encounters a leopard, is attacked and nearly eaten
by the mighty beast, and ultimately the two
battle to the death. Akeley is forced to strangle the leopard
[actual cartoon dramatization] with his bare hands,
[actual cartoon dramatization] shoving one arm down its throat
with the other holding on for dear life. … his life, I mean. The leopard dies, obviously. After five months in the field,
Akeley returns to Chicago, where he spends the next nine years
[Field Museum taxidermy workshop] making taxidermy mounts
[Field Museum taxidermy workshop] for these animals for display
in Field Museum dioramas. Akeley’s goal: to bring
the public face to face with African wildlife for
the first time ever. The Field Museum soon moves to
its new location here on Lake Michigan. The striped hyenas,
[the diorama time forgot] some of the finest in the world,
[the diorama time forgot] are put into overflow storage and
end up in our Hall Of Reptiles. So we’ve got an empty diorama space
and some orphaned hyenas. Seems to me like we’ve got a project! In an unprecedented move, The Field Museum wants you to be
a part of our history in a very real way; to help us restore this diorama and
give the Akeley hyenas a home. So we’ve formed a crack
team of scientists, conservators, builders,
artists and exhibitors to— [Introducing the project hyena diorama team] – Aaand action! That’s a wrap! I’m Michael Paha.
[Michael Paha, exhibits] I’m working on the hyena project
to move the cases, open up the glass, you know, get in
where people need to get in, get things in for them a bit, building
support for landform, and um… move the case wherever it needs to go. Yeah. ‘Cause I’m Mike the Mover! – I’m Sarah Crawford and I’m an exhibit developer,
[Sarah Crawford, exhibits] and my job is essentially
to talk to curators, and to get their stories about the hyenas. Why do I like dioramas? Uh… Because I remember being a little kid,
it felt like—when you stood in front of them, that you were travelling
the world, you know. And I remember coming to—actually
to the Field Museum when I was younger, and looking at the dioramas in this
hall and feeling that way, you know, like I could just
step right into them. – The hall that this is going to be
installed in has several, uh, specimens that were collected by
Kermit and Theodore Jr. Roosevelt. And, one of my favourite dioramas
is at the beginning of the hall with the sheep coming down
across an alpine slope. And I can actually feel the winds, the chilly winds blowing off the slopes as
I’m watching the sheep run down this mountainside. I’m Bill Stanley,
[Bill Stanley, mammals] I’m the director of the Gans
Family Collection Center and also the collection manager
for the collection of mammals, and I’ll be advising on the natural
history habitat distribution of striped hyenas for this diorama. – My name is Shelley Paine
[Shelley Paine, conservation] and I am the exhibitions conservator, and it’s my job to examine the hyenas, to see if they need any
repair prior to exhibition, and to help the team determine
the best way to preserve the hyenas while they’re in the diorama. – I’m Susan Phillips,
[Susan Phillips, exhibits] I’ll be the production manager
for the hyena diorama project, and I will work with the whole
team to schedule, budget, plan the work and I’ll also be working
in the shop making, um, landforms and plants for the diorama. – I’m gonna paint the mural! Um… I’m gonna— I’m gonna rock out the mural, man. I’m Aaron Delehanty and I’m gonna paint the mural.
[Aaron Delehanty, exhibits] – In total we’re looking at a cost of $170,000,
and here’s where you come in. Natural history museums across the world
are struggling with how we reach audiences that aren’t only in our backayard. We want to make valuable connections
with people from all over the world, to prove that our museum is your museum and to allow you to help
conserve history with us. So if you can’t make it
to Chicago next month, or next year or in the next twenty years, you could come visit decades from now and along with millions of other
visitors enjoy the collective efforts born from fans of The Brain Scoop
all over the world. So it’s already been eighty-seven
years, why do this now? We’ve got television, the internet, zoos,
touchscreens, and interactive exibits; why put the energy behind
recreating a century-old artform that is walled off from the world? Number one: since Akeley endevoured
[(no. 1) The decline of species] on that initial expedition more than a century ago,
[(no. 1) The decline of species] the geographic ranges of the
majority of those species – including the striped hyena – have become increasingly limited. Once abundant across northern Africa
[striped hyenas & golden jackals] and into central Asia,
[striped hyenas & golden jackals] it’s now estimated that the striped
hyena’s population is around 10,000 adults and decreasing annually. If their population disappears,
the Field and museums like ours will be the only places anybody
will be able to study these creatures. But it won’t be possible until we begin conserving
these one hundred year old specimens, today. Number two! Dioramas are historically relevant. They’re time capsules for
a region over time, in ways ranging from the specimens
themselves to the geography of the landscape, the types of plants
represented in the habitat and the interactions of different
species within the group. Because of our Hall Of Mammals
[argali sheep] we’re allowed a unique insight
[snow leopard] into the habitats of South-east Asia
[snow leopard] at the end of the nineteenth century,
[giant panda] which is something that can’t be replicated
[asian leopard] in public spaces anywhere else.
[asian leopard] Number three: dioramas create valuable
connections between humans and nature. As our cities and building projects
expand it is more important than ever to remember that we are
not encroaching on nature, we are a part of nature. Nature, wildlife, and natural
enviroments do not exist separately. Life exists everywhere, and dioramas
put us face to face with nature in a way that gets lost behind
screens in the digital sphere. Number four: Carl Akeley was a key player
[(no. 4) Carl Akeley is a badass] in revolutionizing a marriage
between art and science, and contributed to how the public sees
and interacts with our natural world. He was like the Beethoven of taxidermy. He’s like the Michelangelo
of dead animals! One of the greatest honours
[taxidermy by Carl Akeley] a taxidermist can receive today
[taxidermy by Carl Akeley] is the Carl Akeley Award for most artistic
entry at the World Taxidermy Championship. His legacy is far-reaching and his
life’s work deserves preservation. Number five: museums are
places of permanency. While the world around us might
not look anything like it did ten or twenty or two million years ago, museums help us preserve
views into the past. And this is only going to become
more important to remember as we lose natural habitats
at an unprecedented rate. We’ve got an obligation to
care for our collections, but we can’t do it without your help. Check out our Indiegogo campaign,
you can donate by clicking here or checking the link in the
video description. Please. The Brain Scoop is brought to you by The Field Museum in Chicago It still has brains on it.

100 thoughts on “Project Hyena Diorama: Indiegogo Campaign!

  1. I hate to say it, but the reason museums are going extinct is because of costy and boring hyena dioramas. Thats never going to move people thru the doors. Maybe would have been a hit in the 1850's, but that shit doesn't fly today.

  2. I don't know if I buy the research aspect. The hyenas aren't on display for researchers, they could be placed in storage/specimen drawers and accessed by scientists that would want them. Historically important? Maybe. But I don't think the hyenas are exciting enough to draw much attention. And we can make those connections to nature without the hyenas. I just don't think THAT much money can be justified by honoring some guy we've never heard of to keep around some old stripy hyena caucuses.

    Do you know what that sort of money would do for a research lab at a university? Goodness, that could fund 5 different projects to learn new exciting, cutting edge things.

  3. Visit the campaign page for sure but just to save peoples lives…
    …A diorama is a three-dimensional replica of a landscape, typically featuring habitat scenes.
    Good luck… he wrestle a tiger and strangled it eh? Hmmmm.

  4. Being a kid is nice and all in the sense that you don't have to do taxes. Not so great in the sense that you can't donate to make hyena dioramas, or even persuade your mom to, even though she's a scientist herself. sigh

    Is there any other way I can contribute?

  5. This is a wonderful idea! Kudos to The Field Museum for coming up with this idea and acting on it! you guys are almost 10% funded already! Woohoo! 

  6. Comments in order of appearance in my brain:
    1. cool! your dress matches the background.
    2. Is this true? it's true? that's much awesomer than I expected the secret thing to be.. I thought it would be like "an awesome thing is happening, but its mostly just awesome for the people who are actually doing it." but this is like significantly more awesome than that. it radiates awesome to all who bask in its glory.
    3. 5:37 Michael Aranda better up his game, cause that is one fine looking blonde stripe.
    4. awesooome!

  7. How big is the Field Museum?

    You speak of this new discovery like someone found the Room of Requirement in Hogwarts.

  8. I'm going to Chicago this month for the first time and our plan is to go to the Shedd Aquarium but I just realized that the Shedd and Field Museum are neighbors…Me thinks I need to work on my travel partners to see if we can jaunt over to the Field Museum as well! Are you doing anything at the museum on the 19th Emily? lol

  9. It's so cool to see a diorama being restored like this! I've always loved to see reconstructed scenes at museums, and it's kind of sad that more modern exhibits don't emulate the detail in dioramas. Interactive designs are fun, and are useful teaching tools, but it's harder to relate them to the real world sometimes. It's nice when museums can strike a balance between the two and really immerse guests in the study of science. 🙂

  10. I wish I would work at the field museum! I'm going to school to be a curator so maybe one day 🙂 haha

  11. Just for some perspective…

    Just to walk in the door of the Field Museum is going to run you $15 if you're a student (much of TBS's demo) and $18 if you're an adult. If you want to see the good stuff, an All-Access ticket tops out at $31. The Field Museum has a $70 million budget and a $300 million endowment. 

    Asking kids to fund $170,000 out of their allowance/pocket change is criminal.

  12. So let me get this straight:

    The Field Museum, who charges $31 a ticket, can't afford to move 4 hyenas to a new diorama. What to do? Trot out their newest pet, that they bought to make themselves relevant again (you know, the youth vote and all), with the express task of raising money for them? Geez.

  13. It's so cool that the hyenas will have the spotlight they deserve! I remember when I visited the Field Museum last summer how out of place they looked. Also, I have a new found appreciation for people who work in specimen preservation as I recently began volunteering in the Southeastern Louisiana University Vertebrate Museum ichthyology department. 🙂 Someone I work with used to work with you Emily! Keep being awesome!

  14. Donation completed. Good luck! Can I just say that your enthusiasm for your work is absolutely infectious and it really makes watching your videos so much fun. Smart women who are joyfully engaged in something that really matters to them, and to others as well, always makes my heart skip a beat. You could scoop my brains anytime. Keep up the great work!

  15. The dioramas were my favorite part of the museum when I visited a few months ago! It was awesome to travel the world through them. It is so neat to get up close and look at the hair or the nails of an animal that used to walk the earth that I might otherwise never see. But it was sad to notice that some of the specimens were obviously VERY old and in need of repair. 

  16. Thank you all for your interest and enthusiasm! We are beyond thrilled to be going ahead with this!  $23k in 9 hours isn't a bad start. 😀 

  17. OK striped hyenas are cool and all but . . . is it my imagination or is that the Presto from Bach's Partita #1 played all pizzicato?

  18. lots of pplz involved…  no wonder its so expensive !  i'm not against it at all though…  We need these ppls and every penny is worth it

  19. I feel like this video should have had more symmetry and at least two different binoculars. And someone writing a letter with some voiceover.

  20. So cool! 🙂 I hope to donate eventually… not sure at what pledge level of course. Was wondering how many postcards would be in the postcard pack.

  21. I grew up with the Museum of Natural History in LA, and the dioramas were one of my favorite parts! I wish we could get new ones as well, best of luck Brain Scoop crew! 

  22. 87 years ago, it was April 1928, the market crash that initiated the depression was still about 18 months in the future (Sept-Oct 1929).
    Still happy to contribute.

  23. I remember wandering through these dioramas as a kid. They had a profound and lasting effect. I am so on board with this.

  24. Not gonna lie, hyenas are pretty much the only animal that creeps me out for some reason. Though I guess it'd be fair to say it's the laughing hyenas that draw most of my shivers. All those videos of the shiny eyes in the night surrounding their downed pray as they laugh creepily. shivers 

    That being said, I still love supporting museums and science!!

  25. The Wes Anderson/Brain Scoop dual fanbase is losing its shit right now. God these videos are so good.

  26. this is so cool! i like seeing the people behind this project and the rest of the museum, i'd love to be one of them in the future.

  27. Very cool. I'm pretty well broke but I'll make it the first link in the description for anyone checking out the True Facts video.

  28. Taking a look at the pie chart makes me wonder, do they really need 40,000 to work on the diorama shell? if one can buy a condo with double that money I don't see how it costs that much to modify a small room? also 20,000 for the mural? who knew murals cost that much.

  29. I've been spreading the love for this campaign. The Field Museum is a great place. I've been an on and off docent for the past 5 years. Best wishes.

  30. What's your thoughts on providing a 3d model of each exhibit and a digital DNA copy? You could even use something like a raspberry pi to send a torrent link with a NFC to a phone. So people would physically have to show up to get the data.

    "you provide the data, we make the beast"

  31. Speaking of permanency, I'd love a video on the Field Museum's emergency preparedness. What sort of protections does it have in place in case of fire, flood, earthquake, zombie apocalypse, or whatever?

  32. We've got 29 hours left in the campaign and have raised 74% of our goal! I am so proud of everyone at the Museum who helped us get this project off the ground, and immensely grateful to the more than 1,500+ people who have donated over the last month. This has been a humbling and enriching experience and I am so thankful to you all. <3 
    -Emily

  33. I was scrolling through your instagram and ended up coming to this picture on there just as this portion of the video started playing. I had to do a double take. I thought it looked familiar.

  34. I can't hear that song without associating it with Moonrise Kingdom. I had to look up the piece and listen to it to make sure I wasn't crazy.

  35. Can someone please tell me the names of the classical music pieces used? It's driving me insane here. Gaaaaah!!

  36. I feel like persevering life, is more than just making things of the past. We need to combat the humans.

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