Carnegie Museum of Natural History partnered with the University of Pittsburgh to organize a symposium to celebrate the redisplay of an iconic museum diorama.
Visitors are invited to a free, day-long symposium on January 28 that will explore the history and context of the diorama Lion Attacking a Dromedary, formerly known as Arab Courier Attacked by Lions. The museum partnered with the University of Pittsburgh to provide 150 free tickets to the symposium, which will include general admission for the museum to enable attendees to view the unveiling of the diorama’s new display.
“Over the course of the past year, we have worked to attain a better understanding of the history, context, and construction of the diorama,” said Dr. Eric Dorfman, director of Carnegie Museum of Natural History. “We are thrilled to share our research with the public through the symposium and a new, prominent display for Lion Attacking a Dromedary.”
The diorama, made by a famous French naturalist named Edouard Verreaux in the mid-1800s (part of the company called Maison Verreaux), depicts a dramatic scene in which lions are attacking a courier on camelback. Carnegie Museum of Natural History acquired it from the American Museum of Natural History in 1898. This year, museum leaders renamed the diorama a translation of its original French title, Lion Attaquant un Dromadaire.
The symposium is the first of a four-part series on the diorama and will bring together scholars from the Museums of Art and Natural History and faculty from the University of Pittsburgh’s departments of French and Italian, Global Studies, and History of Art and Architecture, as well as the Muslim Association of Greater Pittsburgh. Dates of future events will be announced in the coming weeks.
“This series is an opportunity to explore one of the museum’s most iconic pieces,” said Dr. Erin Peters, joint assistant curator of science and research at Carnegie Museum of Natural History and lecturer in History of Art and Architecture at the University of Pittsburgh. “Partnering with the University of Pittsburgh helps us provide context to this complicated diorama and explore its rich history.”
Morning sessions will focus on the historical and intellectual contexts of the diorama, and afternoon sessions will focus on the museum process and discussion. The diorama’s new display near the Carriage Drive entrance of the museum will be revealed at 12 p.m.
In April, the museum announced plans to remove the diorama from its display for restoration and research. The project was funded with a gift from the Guyaux family, who also provided support for the recent gift store renovation.
“This exciting opportunity would not be possible without the generous donation from Joe and Kathy Guyaux,” said Dr. Dorfman. “Their support helped us to achieve a deeper understanding of an iconic piece in our collection and share that information with our visitors.”