James A Hurst ( 1810 - 1883)

Hurst was born in England in 1810, immigrated to Canada and by 1849 he had moved to Utica and opened a taxidermy shop. In 1850 he was offered the position of NYS Taxidermist at the State Hall (the earliest NYS museum).

He created a number of dioramas and exhibits that portrayed wildlife in their native habitat. As more people flocked to urban areas knowledge of how wild creatures lived in their natural settings. Hurst’s dioramas were exhibited at the World’s Fair in New York City between 1853 and 1854 which drew over 1 million visitors.

Taxidermy was Hurst’s love and he had hundreds of personal specimens. The museum was free, but he sold his hand tinted stereoscopic view cards to visitors, as well as to schools around the country.

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