• Blue Whale on the Move: Dismantling a 125 Year-Old Specimen

      Bernucci, A; Cornish, L; Lynn, C (museum fur naturkunde berlinBerlin, Germany, 2016)
      The Natural History Museum (London, UK) intends to suspend a 25 metre-long, blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) from its central Hintze Hall. Alongside other specimens which are to be put on open display in this space the environment was looked at in terms of sustainable improvements. Works are being undertaken to improve the conditions by utilizing natural ventilation and re-using existing duct work. This specimen, acquired by the Museum in 1891, was suspended from the ceiling of the Mammal Hall, where it has been on display since 1934. Conservators worked with a specialist specimen handling company to carefully dismantle and remove each of the 220 bones from its original mount. The skull required a special frame and a precise calculation of movement to dismantle it and remove it. Many complex decisions were made during this process – as each bone removal did not dictate what the next would bring. During the dismantling phase, the conservation team have had to address the many requirements of curators, researchers, senior management and the media.