Hungarian taxidermist Ferenc Mere was born in 1878 and grew up near a pond full of frogs. He was influenced by the work of Hermann Ploucquet and Walter Potter, who preserved mice, rabbits, and other small animals in anthropomorphic settings, like tea parties. Working with what he knew, Mere did the same with frogs, which was rare in the world of taxidermy. Frogs are notoriously difficult to stuff, as their delicate skin tears easily, and many others have found that the finished product doesn’t age well as compared with other animals.
Faced with a dearth of methodology, Mere developed his own special technique, which allowed him to keep his frogs lifelike long after death. Though the particulars remain secret, we do know that he stuffed them with cork and sawdust through their mouths, avoiding distracting seams, and replaced their eyes with glass, complete with tiny realistic eyelids. From 1910 to 1920, Mere prepared over a thousand frogs in this way.
Half of these have since been lost to time. The rescued 500 make up Froggyland, a whimsical menagerie that doubles as Mere's legacy. Within Froggyland's 21 displays, frogs play out scenes from full human lives. Pollywog schoolchildren pass rulers back, answer difficult math problems, and cheat off each others' homework. Four play doubles tennis, while others wait on the bench smoking pin-sized cigarettes. At an all-amphibian circus, frogs hang upside-down, form athletic pyramids, and participate in impressive feats of strength.