Taxidermist

During his junior year, Dyche began teaching courses in zoology and tried his hand at taxidermy. The editor of the University Courier wrote that his work was “in many respects superior to any previously done for the University.”

When the university acquired two bison skins, Dyche looked to William Temple Hornaday, the chief taxidermist at the Smithsonian Museum (then called the National Museum) for advice. Dyche traveled to Washington, D.C., to spend three months as an unpaid volunteer and apprentice. Hornaday encouraged Dyche to arrange animals in family groups and to display them in their natural environments. This advancement in taxidermy helped popularize it to the public.

Back at KU, Dyche hatched ambitious plans to create a panoramic display of mammals at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. He and several assistants spent two years preparing the mammals and creating representations of their natural habitats.

Dyche’s World’s Fair exhibit, similar to the present-day panorama, showed 121 mammals: white-tailed deer, mule deer, moose, woodland caribou, wapiti (North American elk), mountain goats, mountain sheep, grizzly bear, mountain lions, coyotes, lynx, jack rabbits, wolverines, dogs, gray wolves, foxes, ocelots and bison. The exhibit was met with great acclaim and enthusiasm.

In the north wing of the Kansas building is one of the most remarkable exhibits to be seen at the great Fair… Artists and professional men from all over the world who have seen it say this is the finest group of mounted animals they have seen... F.D. Palmer, “The Kansas Exhibit of Mounted Specimens of the Animals of the State.” Scientific American 15 July 1893: 41-42.

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