Preparing Fénykövi Elephant for Exhibition

ID: SIA2010-0608

Creator: Unknown

Form/Genre: Exhibit

Date: c. 1958

Citation: Smithsonian Institution Archives, Assession 00-082, Box 1, Folder 2

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  • Unfinished mount of José Fénykövi's bull elephant. Since the bull elephant donated to the museum by Fénykövi was so large, it was prepared for display in a closed exhibition space near the Rotunda on the main floor of the Natural History Building, now known as the National Museum of Natural History. Smithsonian crew constructed a wooden armature slightly smaller than the elephant, and covered it with clay. The taxidermists constructed a plastic tent that had a constant flow of steam pumped in to maintain the proper humidity to keep the clay moist.
  • Plaster of Paris, which would be removed later, covered the clay model prior to the mounting of the skin. Massive supports were installed, along with a trap door in the elephant's stomach to allow access to the interior. The animal's stance, posed as if walking with its head and trunk erect, appeared very lifelike. In the background, a small scale model of the elephant is visible.


  • Fénykövi, Josef J
  • National Museum of Natural History (U.S.)
  • Natural History Building


Historic Images of the Smithsonian

Contained within

Smithsonian Institution Archives, Assession 00-082, Box 1, Folder 2

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20024-2520,


c. 1958

Restrictions & Rights

No restrictions


  • Taxidermy
  • Clay
  • Animals
  • Models (representations)
  • Zoology
  • Exhibitions
  • Plaster
  • Collection and preservation
  • Exhibit Installation
  • Fénykövi Elephant
  • Elephants
  • Models and modelmaking
  • Zoological specimens--Collection and preservation


  • Exhibit
  • Photographic print

ID Number


Physical description

Number of Images: 1; Color: Black and white; Size: 8w x 10h; Type of Image: Exhibit; Medium: Photographic print

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