Museum Minute: A Surprise Museum Donation

May 24, 2019

The two wolf specimens donated to the museum by Jack Putnam.
Credit Corey Anco

In 2011, former curator of the Draper Natural History Museum Dr. Charles Preston received a surprise phone call. 

“It was a woman just south of Denver. She said she would be very interested in meeting me and showing me some of the specimens that her husband had prepared,” recalled Preston. 

It turned out her husband was a taxidermist for the Denver Museum of Natural History. Jack Putnam was a world renowned taxidermist and sculptor. Mrs. Putnam told Preston Mr. Putnam produced a couple of grey wolf specimens back in the 1960’s.      

Preston said Ms. Putnam told him that, “when he died in 2009, he had specifically asked for me to contact you because he thought that those grey wolves would be perfect for the Draper since wolves are a species of real interest in this area.”

Preston said after the call he went down to Denver to look at the specimens in person.

“The two that really caught my attention were these two really beautiful grey wolves one black pelage...one black and a grey one so I asked her well how much would you charge for these because I know that they can go up to $6,000 a piece. She said, ‘No, Jack wanted me to donate these to you, if you wanted them.’”

Preston said those two wolves are now a focal point of the exhibit in the Draper.