Frank the Bear
RGC were commissioned to create a new display that would tell the unique story of how Frank the Bear became part of Macquarie Universities, School of Biological Sciences. Frank is 3 metres tall, dark and from some angles quiet startling, he once weighed 550 kilos. Frank has been an imposing presence at the University for over 35 years, he is much loved by students and staff and even has his own Facebook page.
Frank was a Kodiak bear (Ursus arctos middendorffi), named in honour of Professor Frank Mercer, the beloved and visionary founding Professor of the School of Biological Sciences. Frank the bear lived in Seattle Zoo (USA), and after moving to several zoos around the world, he arrived in Australia and settled at Taronga Zoo in the 1970’s. After Frank died in 1978, he was prepared by the curator of Macquarie’s Biological Sciences Museum, Michael White, for display in the Department.
We researched Frank’s story, found images that correctly identified what he would have looked like when alive and focussed the biological story on how Frank’s taxidermy proved to be so challenging. His skin was removed from the body, cleaned, and treated with alcohol. Frank’s body shape was recreated using a wooden frame coated in mesh and foam. His coat was then pulled over the frame and the newly cloaked Kodiak bear was padded with cotton wool to define the muscles. A plaster cast was used for the head to capture the finer details. After nine months of extensive preparation, Frank was returned to his former stature to take up pride of place in his new home.
The new display has proven to been very popular and helped to capture and engage a wide range of people, the story of Frank the bear has been brought back to life at the school of biological sciences.
Design & Artwork