In the Footsteps of the Museum’s Gorillas





Stephen C. Quinn has spent 34 years as a wildlife artist and curator for the American Museum of Natural History, and has led field expeditions to places as wild and varied as The Galapagos Islands, Antarctica, Egypt and the Bering Sea. But Mr. Quinn believes his greatest adventure lies ahead of him in the footsteps of another noted naturalist.

On Sunday, Mr. Quinn is to depart on a three-week journey that will take him to the Virunga Mountains, a volcanic range straddling the borders of Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Along the verdant, cloud-forested slopes of these mountains, which are among the highest in Africa, live almost all of the world’s remaining mountain gorillas.

It was here, on a 12,000-foot saddle between the Virunga’s Mount Mikeno and Mount Karisimbi, that a Natural History Museum expedition first led in 1921 by the renowned naturalist and taxidermist, Carl Akeley, captured the scene for one of the museum’s most well-known dioramas – an open meadow filled with lush Hagenia trees and wild celery, sweeping views of distant volcanoes and a group of five mountain gorillas.

Using a copy of an original field sketch made of the area, and with the aid of a Rwandan-based veterinarian group that treats mountain gorillas, Mr. Quinn hopes to find the exact site used to create the diorama....

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