London’s Natural History Museum unveils skeleton of blue whale named Hope

Museum patron HRH The Duchess of Cambridge was the special guest at the Natural History Museum’s gala launch reception on July 13, 2017. Copyright Trustees of the NHM, London

 

LONDON – The Natural History Museum in London has unveiled the new star of its reimagined Hintze Hall, launching the biggest transformation in the institution’s 136-year history. Officials unveiled a stunning 25.2 meter real blue whale skeleton suspended from the ceiling, which visitors can walk under and inspect overhead.

Blue whales were hunted to the brink of extinction in the 20th century but were also one of the first species that humans decided to save on a global scale. The museum has named the female blue whale “Hope,” as a symbol of humanity’s power to shape a sustainable future.
Hope is joined in Hintze Hall by hundreds of new specimens, chosen to celebrate the wonder and beauty of the natural world, from the origins of the universe, to the story of evolution and diversity in the world today. Ten star specimens are arranged in the ground floor alcoves known as Wonder Bays, including a 4.5 billion-year-old meteorite, a Mantellisaurus dinosaur skeleton, giraffes and a blue marlin.

 

Blue whale in Hintze Hall. Copyright The Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London, 2017

 

As work was undertaken on the 221 bones comprising Hope’s skeleton, past conservation treatments were evidenced, such as the use of newspapers in the 1930s to fill the gaps between the vertebrae. Natural History Museum conservators were able to use new methods for the first time, including 3D printing a small number of bones missing from the right flipper.

Hope was found stranded in Wexford Harbour, Ireland, in 1891, 10 years after the Natural History Museum opened in South Kensington, London. The whale was bought by the museum and its skeleton first went on display in the Mammal Hall in 1934.

For much more information on Hope and the project that led to today’s unveiling, visit the Natural History Museum online at www.nhm.ac.uk.

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