Dept. of Living Animals Exhibit Opens

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The Department of Living Animals exhibit opens on the Mall at the eastern end of two sheds along the south side of the Smithsonian Institution Building. William T. Hornaday is appointed curator of the department. The amount of space used will grow and animal enclosures will be added plus several small buildings. According to the USNM Report for 1888, the department is established to afford the taxidermists an opportunity to observe the habits and positions of various species, and use this knowledge in mounting skins for exhibition. Interest in a collection of living animals is also spurred by the realization that the great game animals of the United States, especially the buffalo, are being exterminated. When in 1891 the animals are transferred to the National Zoological Park, enclosures and buildings are removed, excepting the eastern shed and one small shed that will be converted into a paint shop.


  • United States National Museum Dept. of Living Animals
  • National Zoological Park (U.S.)
  • South Shed
  • South Yard


Chronology of Smithsonian History


  • Mergen, Alexa. From Bison to Biopark: 100 Years of the National Zoo. Washington, D.C.: Friends of the National Zoo, 1989.
  • Rathbun, Richard. The United States National Museum: An Account of the Buildings Occupied by the National Collections. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1905. Reprinted from the Report of the U.S. National Museum for 1903, p. 261.
  • Annual Report of the Smithsonian Institution for the year 1887. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1889, p. 7.
  • Annual Report of the United States National Museum of the Smithsonian Institution for the year 1888. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1890, p. 20.

Contact information

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


October, 1887


  • Taxidermy
  • Architecture
  • Exhibitions
  • Grounds
  • Museums
  • New Departments
  • Wrecking
  • Major Events in Smithsonian History
  • Buildings
  • Building
  • Museum curators


Mall, The (Washington, D.C.)

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