Kiwi birds, late 19th century
Originally displayed in the Main Hall, this cased taxidermy mount from New Zealand depicts a diorama of two adult and one juvenile kiwi birds and an egg.
The exact origins of the popularity of taxidermy are not known, but historians have traced the beginning of the art form to an 1851 exhibition in London. English ornithologist and taxidermist, John Hancock, submitted Struggle with the Quarry, which depicted a falcon attacking a heron holding an eel. After the exhibition, Victorians began to use mounted animals as a popular interior design item, as it brought nature into their home and was a way to showcase their wealth, especially in middle-class homes.