PITTSBURGH (AP) – A Pittsburgh museum has reopened a 19th-century diorama showing lions attacking a camel and its human rider, about a year after it was released in response to complaints about the display of the Courier was hushed up.
The Pittsburgh Tribune Review reported Friday that a week ago a curtain was removed on “Lion Attacking a Dromedary” at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History and information released to address the controversy.
The decision was made by museum director Gretchen Baker.
X-rays have confirmed that the figure contains a human skull and jaw, which poses an ethical problem for the museum, which does not know where these remains came from. The courier’s costume has been found to come from at least five different North African cultures.
A new sign tells museum visitors that the exhibit, which vividly shows two lions attacking a camel and its knife-wielding rider, is popular but reinforces stereotypes.
“The museum is currently exhibiting the diorama,” it says on the sign. “We want to connect with visitors, staff, and community members to listen to you and learn from you as we ponder the future of this diorama.”
Baker told the newspaper the curtains were “more damaging than not opening them at all,” and in hindsight, covering the exhibit may not have been the right approach.
When a visual barrier was installed in late June 2020, the museum’s then interim director Stephen Tonsor said some colored people had complained about seeing a courier’s picture attacked at a prominent spot in the facility.
It was overcast for three months and since September visitors have had to step behind a curtain to see it.
The diorama was built by the French naturalist and taxidermist Edouard Verreaux and his brother Jules for the Paris World’s Fair in 1867.
It’s been in Carnegie since 1899.