Dramatic diorama raises ethical issues for Pittsburgh museum

Weird News

This undated photo provided by Carnegie Museum of Natural History shows the the 19th century “Lion Attacking a Dromedary” display at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh. The museum has covered up the popular diorama, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020. The diorama, which has been at the museum since 1899, has been put out of public view while officials at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History consider ethical and appropriateness issues. (Joshua Franzos/Carnegie Museum of Natural History via AP)

February 07 2021 03:30 pm

PITTSBURGH (AP) — A Pittsburgh museum decided a dramatic diorama that has been on display for more than a century should remain out of public view while it considers ethical issues about its accuracy and appropriateness.

The Carnegie Museum of Natural History has covered up the popular “Lion Attacking a Dromedary” diorama, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reportedThursday.

The museum’s interim director says the scene, which vividly depicts a lion attacking a camel and the man riding it, has disturbed some because it depicts violence against a man described as an Arab courier. The subject’s costume has been determined to be “derived from” at least five separate North African cultures.

The director, Stephen Tonsor, also says recent X-rays showed that the 1860s-era taxidermy was performed with real human bones from an unknown person. Tonsor says the museum’s ethics policy requires that any human remains respect the person’s cultural traditions and be done with permission “of the people whose remains are displayed.”

The museum has no other dioramas that include humans, Tonsor said, “and certainly no white European humans being attacked by animals.” He notes it also depicts a male lion hunting, though it much more common for female lions do the hunting.

The work by French naturalist and taxidermist Edouard Verreaux and his brother, Jules Verreaux, was made for the Paris Exposition of 1867 and has been at the Pittsburgh museum since 1899.

Museum officials are considering whether to display the diorama in a way that makes it available for viewing but also easy to avoid for those who don’t want to see it.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

CBS47 On Your Side

Do you have a problem that you need help solving? Contact CBS47 and let us be On Your Side.

Phone: 559-761-0383
Email: OnYourSide@cbsfresno.com

Images from Armenia

Small patients in Armenia
Yerevan by night.
Dr. Jeff Thomas delivers.
Dr. Jeff Thomas delivers in Gyumri.
Doctors unpack medical supplies from The Central Valley.
Fresno Medical Mission at work.
Medical Supplies being unloaded.
Fresno Medical Mission at the ready.
KSEE24 crew witnesses the miracle of life in Gyumri, Armenia.
Life saving work of Central Valley surgeons in Armenia.
Ribbon cutting on new surgical center in Ashtarak Armenia. Fresno donors made this dream come true.
KSEE24 on assignment with the Fresno Medical Mission
Honorary Consulate to Armenia Berj Apkarian explains the crisis facing one hospital.
KSEE24's Stefani Booroojian and Kevin Mahan at the meeting with President Bako Sahakyan.
Medical Meeting in Artsakh.
The President of Artsakh meets with the Fresno Medical Mission.
Learning modern medicine techniques with the Fresno Medical Mission in surgery.
Leaning in for a look. Dr. Brien Tonkinson holds class and helps a patient in Armenia.
Fresno Medical Mission cares on one of the smallest patients in the region. Six-year old Yanna receives life-changing better breathing surgery.