Art: Behind the Glass

Small-boy admirers of Manhattan's American Museum of Natural History sometimes call it "the dead zoo." Parents, too, gape and gawk at the floodlit glass cases which the museum describes as its "natural habitat groups." In the shadowy "North American Mammals" wing are windows overlooking a family of grizzly bears dining on ants in Yellowstone National Park, wolves loping after a deer by the glow of northern lights, bull moose fighting in a marsh, and Rocky Mountain goats scrambling sky-high along a cliff.

Such windows were invented at the museum 45 years ago (at the time, the trustees thought they lacked dignity), and...

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