The diorama—a distinctive fusion of art and science—has provided a window into the wilderness for generations of museum visitors. For many, dioramas provided the only opportunity to experience distant places and exotic wildlife. Impressive in scale and detail and frequently capturing dramatic moments, these displays were early versions of virtual reality. Despite the advent of television and the Internet, dioramas' magic has remained intact; they still provide an excellent opportunity to experience these magnificent animals up close.
There are 37 dioramas in the Academy, the majority of which were created between the 1930s and 1950s. Dioramas featuring bison, musk-ox, bears, mountain sheep, and moose can be found on the first level in North American Hall. African animals such as the lion, zebra, opaki, gorilla, and antelope, and Asian animals, including the tiger, kiang, panda, and yak are located in African and Asian Halls on the second level. A diorama featuring the extinct passenger pigeon is located on the third level.