Colorado naturalist, Martha Maxwell shot and stuffed a menagerie of animals for an installation, titled Women’s Work, at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exposition. Maxwell was one of the first people to install animals in habitat dioramas, which later became the museum standard. Destitute, she built a cave within her Philadelphia exhibition in which to live for the duration of the fair. Attempts to commercialize her taxidermy through photographic mementos and other ancillary business ventures failed.

The works in Re|collect bring together two approaches to generating a record of Maxwell’s achievements. In part, the exhibition is composed of a selection of photographic documentation of the few remaining artifacts of Maxwell’s natural history collection. The other works in the exhibition call forth Maxwell’s work through reconstruction and reenactment of her achievements and aspects of her life. Together these two methodologies join an imagined vision of the past based on historical record, and a contemporary record of the past based on historic artifacts – two complementary and antithetical ways of telling the story of Maxwell’s zoological endeavor. 

Lex Thompson is a fiscal year 2016 recipient of an Artist Initiative grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. This project is made possible in part by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.


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Installation View, Coe College, Cedar Rapids, IA (2018).
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Portrait of Mabel Maxwell, c. 1868-1869, Pigment Print, 45x30" (2016).
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A Catalog of Martha Maxwell’s Menagerie of Mammal and Bird Specimens (2017), Installation View, Coe College, Cedar Rapids, IA (2018).
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Installation View, The Neon Heater Gallery, Findlay, OH (2018).
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Dendragapus obscurus - Smithsonian Museum of Natural History (2017).
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Corvus cryptoleucus - Smithsonian Museum of Natural History (2017).
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Installation View, The Neon Heater Gallery, Findlay, OH (2018).
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Installation View, The Neon Heater Gallery, Findlay, OH (2018).
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M. A. Maxwell’s Colorado Pavilion, Philadelphia Centennial Exposition, Postcard, 4x6” (2016).
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Martha Maxwell’s Colorado Museum – Washington D.C., Postcard, 4x6” (2016).
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Martha Maxwell’s Rockaway Beach Bathhouse Museum – New York, Postcard, 4x6” (2016).
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On the Plains and Among the Peaks II (2018), Installation View, The Neon Heater Gallery, Findlay, OH (2018).
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On the Plains and Among the Peaks II (2018), Installation View, The Neon Heater Gallery, Findlay, OH (2018).
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On the Plains and Among the Peaks II (2018), Installation Detail.
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Red Squirrel, an Artifact of the Installation, by Lex Thompson, On the Plains and Among the Peaks, Approximating Elements from the Collection of Mrs. M. A. Maxwell (2016).
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Installation View, The Neon Heater Gallery, Findlay, OH (2018).
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Looking into Kinetoscope at Women's Work (2016). Image courtesy the Neon Heater Gallery.
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Women’s Work (2016), video still, seen inside the Kinetoscope. See a video sample HERE.
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Armature for a Cave, Pigment Print, 24x30" (2014).
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Armature for an Otus asio maxwelliae, Pigment Print, 24x16.5" (2017).