Mammoth Cave Wildlife Museum – Cave City, Kentucky - Atlas Obscura
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Cave City, Kentucky

Mammoth Cave Wildlife Museum

Amazing taxidermy dioramas from the 1960s in a cement building meant to look like an ice cave. 

Cave City is a wonderland of kitschy tourist traps from the 1950s and ’60s, and Mammoth Cave Wildlife Museum, located about a five-minute drive from Dinosaur World and around the corner from the TeePee Motel, is not to be overlooked.

When you first walk in it looks like the gift shop of a museum or zoo, but a hidden gem awaits. The tour starts in the insect and butterfly hallways, which are diverse and pretty extensive considering the museum’s small size. After that, you start on the North American animals and continue through to different dioramas of taxidermy birds and fish, and then bigger exhibits with stuffed wild cats and giant bears, including some rare specimens.

The taxidermy is clearly from the 1960s when the museum first opened, and some is a little rough, which only adds to the strange kitsch factor. The walls and ceiling of the museum are made of smooth cement painted white, apparently to resemble ice walls as if you’re inside an igloo. It really adds to the overall wonder effect, and you felt like a kid walking into each new room. 

Know Before You Go

The museum is inexpensive for two adults to enjoy, and there's also a coupon on the website that you can screenshot and show at the door for 10 percent off. If you'd like a guided tour it's best to reserve in advance. Bonus: There's a smashed penny machine! Exit 53 off I-65.

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