MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Painter Fred F. Scherer, who created vivid dioramas of animals and birds in natural scenes for the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, has died at age 98.
His daughter Deidre Scherer, also an artist, said on Tuesday that he died Nov. 25 in Townshend, in southern Vermont. She said that millions of people have walked by the Natural History dioramas and not known who the artists were.
Artist Stephen Quinn, who worked at the museum after Scherer retired, said he looked up to him.
"Fred was always held in high esteem and one of the great gurus of background painting and mural painting," said Quinn, author of "Windows on Nature: The Great Dioramas of the American Museum of Natural History."
Scherer was born in New York and learned from his mentor, artist James Perry Wilson, how to paint dioramas, three-dimensional scenes that convey sense of place and time of day and create the illusion of being at a specific location.
From 1934 to 1972, he created or collaborated on many dioramas in the museum. He created at least 15 of them in the Chapman Memorial Bird Hall, the African Hall and the North American Mammal Hall, his daughter said.
Scherer, who was curious about the natural world, sometimes would travel to paint in the field, Quinn said. The pieces he did could take six to eight months to complete because he, like Wilson, was so exact, Quinn said.