Leading Museums, Museum Leaders

Life as a Museum Preparator

Lucy Fahey, Technical taxidermy: life as a museum preparator, ABC News, 30 October 2015

Steven Sparrey on collecting whale carcasses, feeding possums to carrion bugs and stuffing lions at the Melbourne Museum.

A preparator does taxidermy as well as many other things. We do model making, moulding and casting, biological specimen preparation in terms of skeleton preparation – so that’s collecting whale bones, going out on site on Victoria’s coast and disarticulating specimens and retrieving not only bones but also important data like DNA samples for research purposes.

I’ve always loved animals and had lots of pets and things like that and wanted to be a vet and there came a stage where I thought, that’s just too gruesome, I couldn’t go cutting up and trying to fix people’s animals. And here I find myself not in a dissimilar situation … it is gruesome if not more gruesome than being a vet.

I have a Bachelor of Science but I’m one of six people here. They all come from different walks of life – three or four people who have diplomas in science as well as two others who have fine arts degrees, so it’s a real mixture of science and art. I also have as a hobby model-making and painting. That’s where my personal interests helped give me that leg-up to get me the job.

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