Most people have a pretty sterile vision of museums. They have institutional white walls and satin ropes. There may be a security guard perched by the entry way to the gallery. The J.Spencer Watkins Memorial Museum is not that museum.

Sometimes, the distinction between graffiti and history is tenuous. This skull was signed by many of Montana’s notable figures back in 1913 including the celebrated western artist, C. M. Russel.

The museum has a remarkable collection of more conventional taxidermy as well.

Like so much of the odd town of Virginia City, the J.Spencer Watkins Memorial Museum is a place for the eddies of history. Strange items flow in to Virginia City and settle on the shelves and in the display cases of the museum. Wander through a mismatched collection of taxidermy, skulls, and other oddities. Read newspaper clippings about the local blind bartender. Peak at faded fashions of a bygone age.

At first, one might think this is an example of creative taxidermy, such as the jackalopes that are concocted by combining different parts of animals. But this animal actually did live as it is seen. This is known as a “bum lamb.” While it only lived for a few days after it’s birth, the same characteristics that lead to its swift demise made it a conversation piece, which was preserved. Now it sits in pride of place…in the museum basement.

What appears to be almost a decorative wrap along the shoulders of the bum lamb from the front is clearly two extra forelegs when viewed from the side. The Lamb also has four hind legs.

Lexi lives in a truck camper down by the river.

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