American Museum of Natural History Logo link: Congo Expedition Main Page

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The shift from fieldwork in Africa to animal and exhibit preparation in New York must have been an anticlimactic one. Lang adjusted, but never lost his taste for the African wilds. In 1925, Lang returned to Africa on another collecting expedition for the American Museum. He and Rudyard Boulton went to Portuguese West Africa (now Angola) where they traveled 4,000-miles in pursuit of mammals and, in particular, the rare giant sable antelope (Hippotragus niger variani) to complete the Carl Akeley Hall of African Mammals. They brought back 1,200 mammal specimens, including the giant sable antelope.

Lang remained in Africa after the Angola expedition, eventually settling into a job at the Transvaal Museum in South Africa. He continued his association with the American Museum, however, and worked on several joint projects, including an expedition to the Kalahari Desert that added many specimens to the AMNH collection.

In 1935, Lang married Mrs. Sherwood, the widow of a close friend. He took over the management of Sherwood's Eaton Hall Hotel in Pretoria. Lang and his wife eventually retired nearby in a farmhouse they had built. Lang died there on May 29, 1957, at the age of 78.

Lang may be as well remembered for his excellent wildlife and ethnographic photography as for his more traditional scientific collecting and preparation work. Although he collected tens of thousands of animal specimens over his lifetime--from huge elephants and rhinoceros down to the tiniest bats, shrews, butterflies, and ants—he said that he far preferred to shoot with his camera than with his gun. And although he considered his photographs scientific documents in themselves, many of them were humane and expressive as well. He clearly had a great deal of respect for the dignity and individuality of his human subjects. The nearly 10,000 photographs from the American Museum Congo Expedition are a unique, durable, and expressive record of the inland regions of the Congo during that pivotal era. Thousands of other photographs, now at the Transvaal Museum in Pretoria, document other remote and wild parts of twentieth-century Africa.

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More Expedition Readings

(click images for larger view)

AMNH 2A9923, Lang with lion cub

Lang with lion cub

AMNH # 124774, Lang with Chapin in 1956

Lang with Chapin, 1956