Feejee Mermaid on Display

imageThe Feejee Mermaid is apparently currently on display as part of the American Museum of Natural History's exhibit on Mythic Creatures. A Flickr user, despite being told that photography was forbidden in the exhibit, managed to surreptitiously snap a picture of it anyway.

The one time I saw the Feejee Mermaid was back in 1998 when it was housed at Harvard's Peabody Museum. It wasn't on display, so I had to ask for special permission to see it back in the archives. I managed to snap a few pictures of it, despite also being told that photography was not allowed. I always wondered what the big deal was about taking pictures of it.

Anyway, I have a pretty thorough description of the Feejee Mermaid and its history in the Hoaxipedia. The irony is that the creature currently on display as the original Feejee Mermaid almost certainly isn't. The original probably was destroyed when Moses Kimball's Boston Museum burned down in the 1880s.


Posted on Wed Aug 22, 2007


The exhibit does in fact make a point of stating that only some people consider this one to be the possible original, with the following caption:

Feejee mermaid
The original "Feejee mermaid," made famous by P. T. Barnum, is believed to have been destroyed in a fire-but some people think this one may be it. More than 100 years old, it was rediscovered in 1973. Some scholars connect it to Barnum but its exact origins are unknown.
Posted by Kathryn McGinley  on  Wed Aug 22, 2007  at  01:52 PM
I know it's mummified, or freeze-dried, or WHATEVER... But man, that thing is absolutely hideous looking, and if that is supposed to be even slightly reminescent of what sailors were fantasizing about, I think I'll keep my feet on dry ground from now on. Artist depictions (drawings) are MUCH more kind to the myth of mermaids. That thing there is just a plain ol' verification of some sickos mind. Facsinating critter though, if that makes sense to y'all!
Posted by Christopher  on  Wed Aug 22, 2007  at  06:28 PM
There are also Feejee Mermaids in some of the Ripley's Believe It Or Not museums around the country.

I saw one about a year and a half ago in the Ripley's Museum in Newport, Oregon and I've seen at least one other one in another Ripley's, in San Francisco, Las Vegas and/or Atlantic City, NJ.

The wording on the showcases' signs is ambiguous about whether the content is the original Feejee Mermaid. Since there are more than one of them, the smart money says they're ALL copies of the original.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Wed Aug 22, 2007  at  06:54 PM
By the way, Alex, was the original FeeJee Mermaid in the Boston Museum, not Barnum's American Museum in NYC? I don't have my Barnum books handy or I'd check.

The American Museum burned down, too, so I guess it's academic, really.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Thu Aug 23, 2007  at  02:25 AM
There's one in the Science Museum, London (upstairs in the Wellcome medical section). I've sent Alex a photo of it (there was no restriction of photos for personal use).
Posted by Sarrah (Messybeast.com)  on  Fri Aug 24, 2007  at  12:50 AM
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