NMNH Receives Fénykövi Elephant Hide

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J.J. Fénykövi, an European big-game hunter, donates a 2-ton elephant hide to the National Museum of Natural History. William Brown (Smithsonian chief taxidermist) and Norman Deaton mounted the exhibit after a tanner scraped and soaked the hide to make it thin and pliable. Brown observed the habits of elephants at the National Zoological Park to create a scientifically accurate model of an elephant moving at a fast walk, trunk lifted and ears fanned out. The elephant was moved to the rotunda of NMNH and unveiled March 1959.


  • Brown, William L
  • Deaton, Norman
  • Fénykövi Elephant
  • National Museum of Natural History (U.S.)
  • Natural History Building
  • National Zoological Park (U.S.)


Chronology of Smithsonian History


  • "Torch" gives date of unveiling as March 2, 1959.
  • The "Torch," 4/1981, p. 3
  • The TORCH article notes that Fénykövi donated the elephant to the museum in 1953. However, according to the Smithsonian Institution's Annual Reports, the elephant was not accessioned by the museum until 1957.

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20024-2520, SIHistory@si.edu




  • Taxidermy
  • Animals
  • Elephants

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