White Rhino and Paradoxical Shadows

White Rhino Diorama at the American Museum of Natural History

White Rhino Diorama at the American Museum of Natural History

I have posted a photograph of the White Rhinoceros group at the American Museum of Natural History before (in stereo, if I remember correctly). The 1937 diorama has a fine background painting by James Perry Wilson. It is located in a corner of the mezzanine level of the  Akeley Hall of African of Mammals in a corner with a low ceiling (which wilson tries to disguise with heavy rain clouds). To fit the  two large White Rhinos in the tight space without them standing too close to the observer, one is located very close to the painted background. To help mitigate against a shadow on the background (which would collapse the illusion of depth) apparently the hidden side of the Rhino is painted white. This possibility of negating one’s shadow has been teasing me recently and will be part of the new instrument I am working on.

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