January 22, 2015 by morgan

After 9 years in operation, The Contemporary Zoological Conservatory is now closed. The space will from now on be known as “The Living Room”. Mavis wishes to focus on the preservation of house plants in a Victorian environment. She would like to thank the exceptional people who helped bring all these animals stories back from the dead.





Hold Your Breath I’ve got a big Surprise!

November 11, 2013 by morgan
Morgan Mavis & Christopher Bennell to marry

Morgan Mavis & Christopher Bennell to Marry!

On june 2nd, Christopher surprised me with spectacular proposal, He rode a white house down college street into our courtyard with helium balloons, a mega phone and a hand panted banner! He invited my mom and all our friends to witness it all! I said YESSS and an ombre of petals rained down! We have been making magic real since 2005!

Christopher Bennell will you marry me?

Will You Marry Me?


Dream Boats Morgan Mavis & Christopher Bennell

The Best!


January 2, 2013 by morgan

Pick up the winter issue of Maisonneuve, the glass-eyed beauties and I are featured in a lovely 4-page spread. I had a delightful photo shot with Daniel Ehrenworth, whose shots are showcased in  a full page glossy 8×10. The perfect way to close 2012.

Morgan Mavis, Torotno Taxidermy, pink hair, Taxidermy, Bear

Morgan Mavis in The CZC, photo courtesy of Daniel Ehrenworth for Maisonneuve

The Breathless Zoo: Taxidermy and the Cultures of Longing

September 7, 2012 by morgan

It is the mission of the natural history museum to classify, order, and index the natural world. Now I, Morgan Mavis, have been indexed in Rachel Poliquin’s long awaited cultural history of taxidermy: The Breathless Zoo: Taxidermy and the Cultures of  Longing. The CZC and my collection practices are featured on a two page spread and glossy colour photo by Christopher Bennell. Poliquin is the foremost contemporary scholar on taxidermy and is well known for her blog Ravishing Beasts. This is a must have publication in any academic’s or taxidermy enthusiast’s library. Make sure to take a look at pages 168-169.

Under The Tree

November 24, 2011 by morgan

What I want for Christmas this year? Well, it’s always difficult to recall the objects that I desire when it is time to receive presents. I have been told I am difficult to buy for. I can’t see how that’s the case, when there are so many things I collect and am interested in. This time of year always stumps me with what I should put on my list. Vintage dresses and leather ankle boots are too subjective. Yes, it is true, I am fussy about glazes on vintage ceramics. So this year my list is relatively simple: books and an articulated horse skeleton! I have my top picks for what books I hope to find under the tree.

What I want for Christmas!

A Life Long Collector

November 19, 2011 by morgan

I have always been a collector. For as long as I can remember, it has been not just taxidermy: bones, anatomical models, paint by numbers, chalkware fruit and racially charged salt and peppers. Ever since I was a child I have had extensive collections, which even at a young age, I curated and refined.

I walked the beach and collected rocks that I would polish in my tumbler. When I was 9, I hung out with local gemologists and would get raw uncut specimens. I collected stickers, only fuzzy ones. From age six I collected novelty shaped soaps, stamps, licence plates, street signs, hub caps, upper deck baseball cards and personalized celebrity autographs. In grade five I started to collect vintage animal cages, vintage metal lunch boxes, Pez dispensers, porcelain glove moulds, chandeliers, all things X-files. I was continually refining and purging collections. I would collect avidly for several years, then change my focus. While collecting I would research my fixations, trying to know more about these objects than the people who sold them. I collected vintage animal masks, children’s toy guns pre-dating the 80’s, vintage heart shaped chocolate boxes, religious iconography, needlepoint, vintage Colonel Sanders figurines, cuckoo clocks and plastic lobsters.

I am pretty sure I have forgotten some of my collections. Over the years after many moves and garage sales I have pared down, but I wish as a child I had the foresight to rent a warehouse space to store all my collections with catalogue numbers and hand written notes. An installation that documented my life long fixations. I keep remembering collections that I had forgotten: Polaroid cameras, bouncy horses that children could ride on (don’t even ask how much space all those took up). How could I forget my brief but extensive collection of miniature dice and novelty shaped erasers? Or my collection of floaty pens which I still have! For a period I was known for my button collection. “Re-elect Moe Keck” was a favourite to wear. I was heart broken the night I came home from dancing and lost my “I am crazy about quilts” button which featured an illustration of a crazy quilt. I have always a had a love affair with material culture. Now all I need is an Ark to bring my to  collections with me wherever I travel.

“Whenever you’re a collector, you are really often held hostage to the objects of your passion”  -Ydessa Hendeles

Animal Menagerie

November 6, 2011 by morgan

Morgan mavis

The Conservatory has been a hive of activity of late, teas, tours, photo shoots and a cabinet of curiosity. Here is one  of Alyssa Katherine Faoro’s shots from a lovely afternoon shoot.

Let’s Give The Girl A Hand

October 4, 2011 by morgan

I have always been a collector, and often expand on what I collect. One collection I have aspired to start, but never did due to lack of space, is a collection of vintage prosthetic limbs. Who would not fancy a room full of leather straps and rubber appendages? On our trip to New York Christopher and I were strolling the streets of Brooklyn when a few house ahead I spotted something and took off running towards the find. It was a discarded prosthetic hand, left on the curb for the taking. We speculate it was a woman’s hand due to the size. I was overjoyed and strolled around the streets with my new acquisition and the beginnings of my new collection.

Rachel Poliquin, Lemon Tarts & a Gopher in the Mail

October 1, 2011 by morgan

Pocket gopher donated by Rachel Poliquin

What to do when your hero comes to town? First things first: bake brisée lemon curd and meringue tarts. When it comes to my academic endeavors into taxidermy, Rachel Poliquin is listed multiple times in all my bibliographies. Poliquin’s curatorial and academic writings on the subject of taxidermy have made her the foremost contemporary expert on the subject and my hero. I have been in contact with Rachel since I first learned of her through her blog, Ravishing Beasts, investigation into all things taxidermy.  After several years of periodic emails I was excited, nervous and thrilled to have tea with Rachel in the CZC. Who needs David Bowie when you can be spending a stormy August afternoon with Rachel Poliquin?

I recently received a parcel in the mail. It was a small box packed with styrofoam peanuts and a charmingly peculiar pocket gopher, whose cheek poaches had been oddly stuffed outward and look like foam peanuts themselves. Rachel sent the taxidermied gofer to me. He is the perfect visual display of how taxidermy is an artifact rather then a specimen and the mount illustrates the human interpretation of the natural, this time not so naturally rendered with the cheek pouches incorrectly pulled out and filled. Imagine if you pulled out the pockets from your jeans and stuffed them with socks from the inside. I am now on the hunt for a bell jar to protect and display this treasure, 8” base and 8” high.  If you know where I can find one that ships to Canada, let me know!

How many people can say they had tea with their hero and received a gopher in the mail as a thank you present?

Bait and Tackle: A Dandy Place To Wet Your Whistle

August 23, 2011 by morgan


I was given a tip from a friend that when in New York, I have to go to Red Hook and visit a bar out of my dreams: Bait and Tackle. After an appointment at the Morbid Anatomy Library in Brooklyn, we walked over to Red Hook and on our way found a discarded child’s prosthetic arm on a side street, a perfect accessory to bring into the cabinet of curiosities that is Bait and Tackle. The low-lit establishment dazzles with the glint of glass eyes from the taxidermy animal menagerie. Groupings of deer heads with nature-themed needlepoints hang on the wall. A mountain goat wearing a vintage life preserver is ready if an impending deluge turns the bar into a modern day ark. A dapper fox stands guard of the spirits, not to be confused with bartender and owner Barry O’Meara. I am not sure who charmed me more, the taxidermy animals or Barry with a delightful brogue. Barry’s parents owned an establishment in Ireland stuffed to the rafters with mounted Victorian animals of all kinds. Barry’s kitschy eye for décor won my heart. And the drinks were just as heartfelt – a tequila and soda with hand pressed lime juice and organic gin with tonic and a tad of rosewater. In a city with so many people, Bait and Tackle was a respite, full of genuine inhabitants, refreshing libations and enough antlers to hang your hat. Who, hoo, can say no to sipping a cocktail in a nook with a gaggle of ever-staring ceramic owls and a prowling black bear. Bait and Tackle made me feel right at home.


320 Van Brunt Street, Brooklyn, NY