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Special Features - Then & Now

Hitchcock's Fossils on Display

The Hitchcock Ichnological Museum in Appleton Cabinet. (Historical image courtesy of Amherst College Archives and Special Collections). Modern Image courtesy of Ed Gregory Archive.

Click and hold down the modern image and move it back and forth over the historical image beneath to see how the same view has changed over time.

The bottom image is a photograph of Edward Hitchcock's fossil footprint exhibit in Appleton Cabinet at Amherst College, built in 1855. Note the large slab hanging in a frame toward the back. It is the "gem of the cabinet," as Hitchcock called it, taken from a sidewalk in Middletown, Connecticut. The astonishingly clear, raised footprints had not been seen until the slab was removed from the sidewalk. Hitchcock obtained it from Dr. Joseph Barratt. Lighting and display were of special concern, and Hitchcock took note of these factors when visiting museums on his tour of Europe. Note how he propped up his slabs to catch as much natural light as possible to make the three-dimensional features easily visible.

The modern image is the display of Hitchcock's fossil footprints that can be seen today at the Beneski Museum of Natural History at Amherst College.