Walrus in the Panorama

Support the Panorama Project

Lewis Lindsay Dyche created the Panorama in 1893 on the cusp of growing scientific awareness of ecological systems and the need to conserve natural resources for the better good. For more than 100 years, visitors have been enthralled by the splendor of this exhibit.

Today the specimens in the Panorama show signs of distress. They have been subjected to heat and humidity fluctuations and dust. As the specimens fall apart, they ruin the connection between observer and animal in its habitat — the viewer is no longer transported to the Rocky Mountains or the forests of the Midwest, but instead sees deteriorating artwork.

In 2012, KU alumna and Biodiversity Institute advisory board member Janet Martin McKinney, together with her husband, Kent, spearheaded an effort to raised funds for an extensive evaluation of the Panorama’s condition. To date, more than $110,000 has been raised, but much more work remains to be done.

You can help support the effort to evaluate the Panorama and restore this iconic exhibit. All contributions, regardless of size, will help bring the Panorama back from the brink of deterioration. You can give by credit card through KU Endowment (a separate, secure site). You also may make a contribution by calling us at 785.864.2344. Give now...

The Panorama The Panorama is an American cultural treasure, a 360-degree-view exhibit that embodies a historic first in the representation of nature for the public.

The Panorama

120 Years of Awe: the History of the Panorama

As part of the official Kansas Pavilion in the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, the Panorama was unique and revolutionary in depicting, for the first time, mounted groups of North American mammals in their natural surroundings. Lewis Lindsay Dyche created this exhibit on the cusp of growing scientific awareness of ecological systems and the need to conserve natural resources for the better good.

The Panorama is a magical illusion that transports the viewer to scenes from the natural world.

Panorama conservation

Conservation Assessment

In 2014, the KU Natural History Museum began an effort to evaluate the condition of the the Panorama. Tuckerbrook Conservation LLC of Lincolnville, Maine, will survey the state of each of the Panorama’s animal mounts, plants and backgrounds, as well as lightly clean the animals, which have endured years of exposure to fluctuating temperature, humidity and light.  The onsite assessment is scheduled to be completed Friday, April 4, and will result in a report about the exhibit’s condition by July. Photos, updates and more information about the assessment are available here.

Lewis Lindsay Dyche with a spear

Lewis Lindsay Dyche

Lewis Lindsay Dyche, Dyche Hall's namesake, was a Kansas naturalist who would become renowned as an explorer, lecturer, and taxidermist and showman. He was responsible as much for the iconic Panorama exhibit as he was for some of the earliest conservation laws in Kansas.

At a time when most natural history displays placed animals alone, the naturalist and explorer Lewis Lindsay Dyche created a wildlife display of wolves tearing apart a carcass and moose in battle. Part art and part science, this one-of-a-kind display at the Columbian Exposition in 1893 brought Kansas world-wide attention. Now housed at the KU Natural History Museum, the exhibit represents the university's earliest efforts to document and understand the life of the planet — research that continues today through the KU Biodiversity Institute. These photos depict the Panorama from its earliest moments of creation to its modern display in Dyche Hall.