Maher, whose fondness for antiques has caused her to decorate her house "like a garage sale," is drawn to the museum's age. "Not only are [the specimens] old, but they've been in that museum for a long time," she says. "There've been thousands of people, thousands of eyeballs that have looked at them." She even likes their threadbare fur. "The decay of craft — it makes you aware there was craft, that someone spent hours preparing these animals" she says. "I love when things fall apart, because you get to read the history of their presence and their making, in addition to how you just read the object."

Of all the aging crafts that populate the museum, Maher loves the fox known as the Maned Wolf best of all. "It's this beautiful fox with these extremely long legs. It doesn't look quite right — its legs are far too long," she says. "That's what I enjoy most about the animals, when something is a little off."

For all the hours Maher spent drawing in the museum, dancing around the cases in her underwear forever changed her relationship to the place.

"I felt like I owned it," she says.

Eugenia Williamson can be reached at

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