A second-generation taxidermist, Paul Rhymer spent 25 years as a taxidermist and model maker at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History (NMNH), the most visited natural history museum in the world. During his tenure, he was involved in the installations of several new halls, among them the Behring Mammal Hall, the Sant Ocean Hall and the Hall of Human Origins. In addition to his work at NMNH, he was instrumental in the production of the Natural History Wing of the Swaziland National Museum, and he has worked as a taxidermist and exhibition consultant with numerous national museums and visitor centers.
Though Rhymer originally intended to become an illustrator, he has no regrets about accepting the Smithsonian’s offer of the taxidermist’s position when he was just 22. “With museum taxidermy you’re exposed to things like gorillas and black-footed ferrets and endangered species and weird, bizarre birds.”
Rhymer comes from a family of artists, and has drawn and painted his entire life. By 1999, the three-dimensional nature of his Smithsonian work had begun to influence his personal artwork, and he transitioned from painting and drawing into sculpture. His work has been exhibited in such prestigious art shows such as the National Sculpture Society, the Society of Animal Artists and Birds in Art. His wildlife sculptures are at the National Zoo, National Museum of Natural History, the Denver Zoo, Woodson Art Museum, Hiraim Blauvelt Museum and various public buildings and parks and private collections throughout the US.