Paradise Lost: Encounters with Australia’s Extinct Parrot

Miranda Cichy


The paradise parrot is mainland Australia’s only bird to have become extinct since white settlement. First named by British ornithologists in 1844, the bird has not been seen since 1927, its population declining rapidly due to changes in land-use.

This creative-critical article investigates the history of the bird alongside personal encounters with six paradise parrot skins found in the storerooms of three UK museums, questioning whether the presence of such bodies negates our sense of total absence. It looks at changing taxidermy practices, and ongoing curatorial work to protect specimens from decay, refuting Donna Haraway’s notion that taxidermy animals have ‘transcended mortal life, and hold their poses forever.’

This enquiry examines what kind of encounter is generated between the viewer and taxidermy animal, and how this might enable us to bear witness to species loss during an age of mass extinction. 


taxidermy; museums; extinction; animals; encounter

Full Text:



Copyright (c) 2022 Miranda Cichy

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
We use both functional and performance cookies to improve visitor experience. Continue browsing if you are happy to accept cookies. Please see our Privacy Policy for more information.

Museum and Society

ISSN 1479-8360

University Home