Martha Ann Dartt Maxwell
Martha Dartt Maxwell, only five feet tall and a lifelong
vegetarian, became an accomplished hunter and taxidermist whose work
changed the look of natural history museums forever. When a child, her
grandmother exposed her to the natural beauty of the Pennsylvania wilderness.
Martha arrived in Colorado in 1863 and became inspired when she saw the
work of a local taxidermist. After resettling near Boulder, she began
hunting regularly and skinned her own animals for artistic endeavors.
In 1868 she opened a museum in Boulder and later showed her stuffed mammals
and birds at the Colorado Agricultural Society Fair in Denver and the
American Centennial Exhibition of 1876 in Philadelphia. Both displays
were a huge success and became predecessors of today’s dioramas
that depict animals in their natural habitat. Martha was the first woman
to have a subspecies named after her.