Are the animals in the galleries real?

Dotted around the galleries of our Leeds Museum are a number of life-sized dioramas depicting animals in war, sport and hunting pose. One of the most commonly asked questions the gallery staff hear is “Are they real?”


This is because the horses, elephants, tiger and rhinoceros are all incredibly lifelike, and do look like fine examples of taxidermy. However, the animals in question are not real but are excellent examples of the model maker’s art.

The various models were made by several different workshops. Most of the animals were produced by Gerry Embleton and David Hayes.


The true craftsmanship is in the detail – every fold of skin on the elephant’s hide or hair of the horse’s mane is modelled perfectly. Sometimes it feels as if they might actually leap off their displays and gallop off into the distance!

Bloggers: Stuart Ivinson, Library Assistant and Chris Streek, Image Librarian