November 4, 2010

AMHERST, Mass.—From Thursday, Nov. 4 thru Sunday, Nov. 14, the Mead Art Museum will present a temporary exhibition featuring the very same Feejee Mermaid that debuted on Nov. 2 on the Travel Channel’s new series, Mysteries at the Museum.

Manufactured since the 17th century from desiccated ape, orangutan, and fish components by tricksters who passed them off as real dried specimens, Feejee Mermaids (as such objects have traditionally been called) gained notoriety in the 19th century. One celebrated example took London by storm in 1822, before P.T. Barnum acquired it in 1842 and toured it first in the northeastern, and later in the southern, United States.

The Mead’s Feejee Mermaid appears to have come to Amherst College before 1890, presumably as an object for discussion in the teaching of natural history. Today, long after science disproved the possibility of such a fish-mammal hybrid, the compelling figure of the Feejee Mermaid has survived in the popular imagination, most recently in the television series The X-Files and in the 2003 horror film, House of 1,000 Corpses.

For more information on the series and for repeat airing times, please visit the Travel Channel’s website,

The Mead Art Museum houses the art collection of Amherst College, totaling more than 16,000 works. An accredited member of the American Association of Museums, the Mead participates in Museums10, a regional cultural collaboration. During the academic term, the museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to midnight and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday. For more information, please visit the museum’s website,, or call 413/542-2335.