Exhibiting Extinction, Recovering Memory, and Contesting Uncertain Futures in the Museum

Adam Searle


This paper builds upon qualitative research in El Museo del Bucardo – The Bucardo Museum – an exhibition space in the village of Torla, high in the Spanish Pyrenees. The bucardo was declared extinct on 6 January 2000 and rose to international fame three years later when scientists in Zaragoza delivered a bucardo clone; this event is commonly portrayed around the world as ‘the first de-extinction’. Taxidermic remains of the last bucardo were absent from public view for years, yet they finally returned to Torla in 2013 following years of campaigning from local activists, and El Museo del Bucardo was founded. I draw upon interviews and archival material to present an environmental history of the bucardo as told through the lens of the museum, one which sets out to ‘recover memory’ and institutionalize the bucardo’s legacy. In the museum, bucardo afterlives continue to shape understandings of situated Pyrenean wildlife. I examine El Museo del Bucardo’s role in generating meaning in an epoch characterized by mass extinction and the spectacle of technofixes in the form of de-extinction science.


memory, extinction, de-extinction, bucardo, the Pyrenees

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.29311/mas.v20i1.3801

Copyright (c) 2022 Adam Searle

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Museum and Society

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