Martha 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.