Spirit of the Woods Museum – Williamsburg, Michigan - Atlas Obscura

Spirit of the Woods Museum

Part taxidermy workshop, part natural history museum this Michigan destination shows off its dead animals and helps you mount your own. 


Since 1928, the Guntzviller family has been practicing and perfecting the art of taxidermy and after moving their shop to Michigan they have established the Spirit of the Woods Museum, an extensive collection of preserved beasts from all over the wilds of the state and beyond. 

Made up primarily of taxidermy dioramas of Michigan wildlife, the museum attempts to bring the wonder of the outdoors each guest. Among the animals on display are elk heads, almost all of the fish present in the Great Lakes, bobcats, mountain lions, and game birds. for the younger visitors there is also a wall of pelts to touch and even a two-headed cow, which is the one beast in the collection that does not appear to be biologically authentic. It is worth noting that many of the environments are strangely composed and the animals do not seem to be kept up well, tipped over or sagging against their crudely painted backgrounds. Although this also seems to be part of the authentic charm of the place. 

In addition to the menagerie, the museum holds what they claim to be the largest collection of American Indian artifacts in the mid-west including arrowheads and moccasins. 

The preserved specimens even extend into the gift shop where visitors can pick up all manner of roadside kitsch including some mounted animals of their own. However if anyone wants a more personal creation, the Spirit of the Woods Museum is still also a working taxidermy shop run by the Guntzvillers, and they will mount your very own kills as well. Just don’t get any big ideas about museums of your own.  

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