1926 - 1927
Biographical or Historical Note
- The Akeley-Eastman-Pomeroy African Hall Expedition was a collecting expedition to
Africa; its mission was to provide specimens for the African Hall at the American Museum of
Natural History, originally conceived in 1910. The man behind both the exhibit hall and the
expedition was Carl Ethan Akeley, an animal sculptor and taxidermist, an inventor, naturalist
and photographer. The Eastman-Pomeroy expedition focused on collecting specimens for the
dioramas of the African Hall, as well as accessories such as grass and bushes, and the creation
of background paintings from artists William Leigh and Arthur August Jansson.
The Akeley-Eastman-Pomeroy African Hall Expedition was envisioned by Carl Ethan Akeley as
part of his dedication to and design of the African Hall Exhibition at the American Museum of
National History. Conceived in 1910, the African Hall was created to convey a quickly vanishing
image of wildlife in Africa. Akeley intended to travel to Africa to complete his six habitat
groups for the African Hall, originally begun in 1921. This expedition consisted of collecting
specimens for the hall dioramas, as well as accessories such as grass and bushes. Background
paintings for the hall were created by artists William Leigh and Arthur August Jansson during
the expedition (3). These paintings are used in the dioramas that exist in the Hall, to give an
accurate portrayal of the scene/place the exhibition is showcasing. The expedition was funded
by George Eastman, Daniel E. Pomeroy, and Daniel B. Wentz. It began in March 1926 and spanned
through East and South Africa, largely in Kenya and the Belgium Congo. In November 1926,
Akeley, who'd been ill previously on his trip, passed away. His wife, Mary Akeley, buried him
in the Kivu Mountains. Mary then continued on to complete Akeley's vision, collecting the rest
of the six habit groups and concluding in March 1927, a year after the commencement of the
expedition. Mary was assisted by Jean-Marie Derscheid. Upon its completion the following groups
were secured for the African Hall Exhibition: Klipspringer, buffalo, greater kudu, lesser kudu,
water hole, plains and wild dog. The conclusion of the expedition was also known by the
following names: Congo Expedition, Akeley-Derscheid Expedition (1). On April 12, 1927, King
Albert awarded to Mary the royal decoration of honor to both her husband and herself, for his
work in the Congo and her completion thereof, respectively.
(1) Mary L. Jobe Akeley, F.R.G.S. 1929. Carl Akeley's Africa; the account of the
Akeley-Eastman-Pomeroy African Hall Expedition of the American Museum of Natural History. New
York: Dodd, Mead, & Company.
Lyle Rexer and Rachel Klein. 1995. American Museum of Natural History : 125 years
of expedition and discovery. New York, N.Y. : H.N. Abrams in association with the American
Museum of Natural History.
(3) Akeley, Mary L. Jobe (Mary Lenore Jobe), 1878-1966. Mary Jobe Akeley papers,
1859-1940. Box 1, Folder 7.
(4) W.R. Leigh. 1938. Frontiers of enchantment; an artist's adventures in Africa.
New York: Simon and Schuster.
- 1925 Spring: Eastman contacts Akeley wanting to go on a hunting trip. Akeley agrees as long as
Eastman helps finance the African Hall. Eastman agrees and the plan is set for the following
- 1926 - 1927: Kenya (Expedition Site)
- 1926 - 1927: Democratic Republic of the
Congo (nation) (Expedition Site)
- 1926 - 1927: miscellaneous/former Kivu,
Région du (Expedition Site)
- 1926 - 1927: South Africa (Expedition Site)
- 1926 - 1927: Uganda (Expedition Site)
- 1926 - 1927: Zaire (Expedition Site)
- 1926 - 1927: Virunga National Park
(national park) (Expedition Site)
- 1926 March: approximately 1926 March. Expedition begins with Akeley and Mary leaving New
York., New York .
- 1926 March 10: Eastman and Stewart leave for New York to meet up with Pomeroy. They set sail a few
days later., New York .
- 1926 April 28: Akeley and his wife are met by Eastman, Stewart and Pomeroy on the Uganda railway in
Mombosa. , Mombosa.
- 1926 June 7: Eastman and Stewart leave Nairobi and head to Guasho Nyro (Kenya). , Nairobi .
- 1926 September: approximately 1926 September. Akeley is ill, leaves for Nairobi for treatment, Nairobi .
- 1926 September 1: Press bulletin of the expedition sent out by the American Museum of Natural
History, New York .
- 1926 September 26: Eastman and Stewart leave the expedition to return to New York, Nairobi .
- 1926 October 4: Sherwood of AMNH writes to President Osborn of the museum, indicating Akeley's recent
cable that he is continuing with expedition and not returning home after illness
- 1926 October 7: Sherwood receives memorandum relaying the groups collected by Akeley and those which
are still underway
- 1926 October 8: Pomeroy leaves with Rockwell for Koodoo hunt., Nairobi .
- 1926 October 14: Expedition starts off for the Kivu Volcanos of Parc National Albert, miscellaneous/former Kivu,
- 1926 November 14: Akeley dies from illness after being sick for days with a fever whilst at the Rwevu
camp site in the Kivu district. He is buried in the Belgian Congo, on the slopes of Mount
Mikerno, near the main location of his Gorilla Expedition in 1921-1922 , miscellaneous/former Kivu,
- 1926 November 30: Pomeroy finishes koodoo hunt in Eastern Tanganyika, near Dodomo. He completed seven
groups, securing lesser and greater koodoo. , Tanzania.
- 1926 December 20: Cable from Mary Akeley indicates collecting in Kivu is now complete and would be
traveling to Kabale, Uganda and then to Kenya to finish collecting items there for the
African Hall., miscellaneous/former Kivu,
- 1927 January 12: Mary Akeley arrives at Edama Ravine on the 12th and then proceeds with expedition to
Lake Hannington (now Lake Bogoria) to study and collect accessories for greater koodoo group
which would then complete the field work for the six habitat groups her husband invisioned
, Bogoria, Lake .
- 1927 April: approximately 1927 April. King Albert bestows royal decoration honor to Akeley for his
work in Congo as well as Mary's completion of his expedition. , Bruxelles.