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James L. Clark

James L. Clark was a taxidermiest, sculptor, game hunter, author and a director at the American Museum of Natural History.

Clark studied at the Rhode Island School of Art and Design. As a student, his clay animal sculptures gained a reputation for their accuracy and detail. He began working with Carl Akeley at the Chicago Field Museum. Later, they worked together at the AMNH as well as at the Akeley Camera Company, where Clark served as the vice president. Clark was Akeley’s primary collaborator in his advancement in the fields of taxidermy and museum display.

After Akeley’s death in 1926, Clark became the directing force in materializing Akeley’s plans for the Hall of African Mammals at the AMNH. In addition to his work on the African Hall, Clark planned and supervised the construction both the Hall of Asian Mammals and The Hall of North American Mammals.

Clark’s interest in systematic methods of managing the preparation department contributed to a unique standardized work on the museum’s expansion in the field of habitat diorama exhibitions. His commitment to realistic representation of nature required Clark to create equally complex organizational systems for the data used in the creation of museum displays. Clark was responsible for standardizing the exhibition department’s picture collection; he also created another collection of visual material that played a direct role in the creation of habitat dioramas at the Museum.

Clark shared his passion for game hunting, expedition travel and sculpture with his wife Sally. Sally Clark accompanied her husband on most of the 20 expeditions he led for the AMNH. An early role model of the liberated modern woman, she embarked on her own African expeditions and was a record holding game hunter.

James L. Clark