One of the most interesting parts of the National Museum in Prague is the exhibition ‘The Miracles of Evolution’, which covers an area of 2000 m2, over which it describes the evolution of animals on Earth in an engaging way, and presents the world of animals in their natural environment. The exhibition also includes a hall of mammals called ‘Conquering the Earth’, in the design of which Peter Adamík from the UP Faculty of Science Department of Zoology participated.
“I was invited to collaborate on this exhibition in 2017 by the then director of the Natural History section of the museum, Ivo Macek. First, I created a concept, which was reviewed and critiqued by a large team of experts. It was based on the idea that mammals have successfully colonised the entire planet. They have successfully occupied the underground, aquatic environments, terrestrial ecosystems and have moved into the treetops and dominated the air. Therefore, I tried to incorporate the idea of mammals going in all directions into the exhibition. That they ‘own the world’. There were countless meetings with architects, graphic designers, and taxidermists from many European countries, with whom I elaborated every detail of this exhibition. During the installation itself, countless details were resolved with the companies that realised the exhibition. It was an amazing experience and a dream job. I am very grateful for that,” said Adamík.
The mammal exhibition in the National Museum consists of almost 200 exhibits and nearly all orders of mammals are represented, approximately 160 species in total. “After putting together in my head the stories of the species I wanted to tell visitors, the search for them began. I created a sort of ‘wish’ list, which was obviously unrealistic. Basically, you are waiting to complete your collection with dead specimens from zoos around the world, and make compromises operationally. The unbelievably skilled hands of the taxidermists repaired exhibits that were even over a century old. When we were at a loss, top foreign companies stepped in to create special animal models. With some of them, the visitor really cannot tell that it is not an original. For example, we had to make models of a rhinoceros, a flying lemur, a walrus, and a minke whale,” Adamík added.
A well-known prominent feature of the exhibition is the huge skeleton of a fin whale, which has also undergone a demanding restoration. “The rarest exhibits also include cetaceans such as the Ganges river dolphin and a number of smaller but similarly endangered species listed on the IUCN Red List,” said the zoologist.