Correction to This Article
The article misstated the first name of a man whose skeleton was put on display at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History. The late scientist's name is Grover Krantz.

Natural History Museum Grants Professor's Dying Wish: A Display of His Skeleton

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By Michael E. Ruane
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, April 11, 2009

Diane Horton had last seen her late husband two days after his death in 2002, so when they were reunited at the Smithsonian's Museum of Natural History a few weeks ago she asked for a few private minutes with him.

He was standing under spotlights in a huge display case -- all 6 feet 3 inches of him except for a few bones missing here and there. His head was thrown back and his mouth was open, as if in a big laugh, and his arms were around one of his favorite dogs.

Here was professor Gordon S. "Grover" Krantz, and all, or almost all, of the phalanges, tarsals, metatarsals and the other 200 or so bones that made up his skeleton. Reassembled with wire, glue and metal.

It was an emotional moment, Horton, 66, said.

"Wow," she thought. "You had really [an] impossible last wish. And it's been granted."

Indeed, it has.

The skeletons of Krantz and his beloved Irish wolfhound, Clyde, make up the striking display that comes at the end of the museum's current forensic anthropology exhibit, "Written in Bone."

The two are depicted mimicking an old photograph, with the skeleton of Clyde up on his hind legs and Krantz cradling the dog's forelegs in his arms.

They make a startling sight -- cleansed of flesh and fur, revealed down to the bones in the dog's tail and the dental implants in Krantz's mouth.

Which is exactly what Krantz wanted.

"He looked happy," Horton said. "And Clyde looked happy."

It hadn't been so promising when Krantz announced eight years ago that he wanted to donate his bones to the Smithsonian, with the caveat that he, and maybe the bones of his dogs, be on display.


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