Whales on display

Whales have always shaped plans for the Museum.

When the Museum's first director, Sir Richard Owen, campaigned for a new Museum in South Kensington, whales were at the centre of his proposal.

A Blue Whale skeleton
A Blue Whale skeleton

But for a long time, most specimens remained unseen in the basement.

It was not until the 1930s that a dedicated Whale Hall was finally built.

Its steel framework had to be exceptionally strong to support the huge skeletons suspended from the roof, and it needed wide doorways to admit their large skulls.

This new extension made it possible to exhibit the blue whale skeleton for the first time in 1934, after 42 years in storage.

In 2017 the blue whale skeleton was relocated to its new home in Hintze Hall, fulfilling Owen's original vision.

Who was Richard Owen? Read the full story.