Taxidermy comes first

The museum employs a very talented and skillful taxidermist, who not only enriches our exhibitions with his works but also others.

Our own excavations of the Petrified Forest Chemnitz generates unique objects. In order to make the stony witness of a time period accessible for public and science, the preparation of the fossil findings is absolutely essential. Unfortunately, the museum doesn´t employ a geological taxidermist. This urgently required competence is compensated by third-party funds occasionally.
In the following, we give a insight into both preperation areas, biology and geology.

Biological Taxidermy

"Every feather needs to be perfect!"

The big challenge of taxidermy is to restore the typical pose and form of the animals. The field of activity of a taxidermist reaches from animal and plant preparations to models and constructions of diorama to imparting artistical and technical information or even knowledge about natural history. Furthermore, taxidermists are responsible for the conservation, restoration and preservation of every single collection specimen. They make an important contribution to document nature and its long-term changes and to preserve historical witnesses for future investigations.

Without taxidermist, scientists are not able to conduct their research successfully.

Occasionally, our visitors are able to take a look behind the scene or the taxidermist even moves his preparation studio into the exhibition room, to prepare popular new acquisitions infront of the audience.

These dates are announced on our website and in the calendar of events.


2008 - Holger Rathaj took 3th place at the world championship of taxidermists

Geological preparation

"The toughest thing of taxidermy is to force oneself to be patient!"

The main challenge about working with our fossil finds is the three-dimensional conservation. It´s blessing and curse at the same time. Thus, the former shape of the organism will be preserved in the stone, but it´s impossible to expose it without any loss of information. Therefore, non-destructive methods such as X-ray and CT-analyses are used increasingly. Ultimately, the taxidermy deals with reconstructing fossil finds for preliminary analyses or finally to interpret image data.

x-ray to define the position of fossils
(c) MfN

The leaf imprints of the fossilised trees are prepared conventionally. Looking through an optical microscope and removing the surrounding tuff with a burin uncovers the very much thin mineral coating which replaced the real fossil. Deeply imprinted cinder tuff with its coarse-grained components are problematical in geological preparation. This takes high concentration and patience.

A burin is used to remove stony material carefully
(c) MfN

Apart from the reconstruction of large-scale recovered fossils, which give us information about organ structure and organ connections, the solid petrified wood can be treated with various stone saws and grinding maschines up to the prepared thin section. However, such preperations give us information about wooden body plans and facilitate wood anatomical studies. Many times only few areas of the plant represent well preserved tissue. So the biggest challenge is probably the choice of suitable sample material.

Laminar preparation of a fern
(c) MfN
Preparation work bench for thin sections
(c) MfN
Thin section of a fossilised root
(c) MfN
Cell structure of petrified wood
(c) MfN

Film about preparation methods ( in german)


This picture gallery will give you an insight into the preperation work of archaeological findings.

Museum für Naturkunde Chemnitz | Moritzstraße 20, 09111Chemnitz
Öffnungszeiten Mo, Di, Do, Fr 9-17 Uhr | Sa, So 10-18 Uhr |
Tel. 0371 - 488 45 51 | Fax 0371 - 488 45 97