81 years of dust

The blue whale skeleton has been on display in the Museum for decades, as part of the building's vast scientific collection.

Conserving and protecting the blue whale during its move was one of the largest jobs the Museum's award-winning conservation team had ever undertaken.

Cleaning and repairing the whale's fin

The skeleton had been hanging in the Whale Hall for 81 years. Conservators and curators seldom went near the bones.

When the time came to take down the whale and prepare it for its new home, Lorraine Cornish, Head of Conservation, knew she had a big challenge on her hands.

She says, 'I remember being asked at the outset of this project whether it was even possible. Could we deliver such an ambitious project and ensure the specimen would not suffer any loss or damage?'

Lorraine was confident but, 'As conservators we can’t guarantee anything, and even though I was positive at the time (with a few caveats) I knew there would be moments of uncertainty.'

Still she's happy to have been involved, 'Working on the blue whale skeleton has been an enormous privilege. The sheer size of the specimen combined with the task of de-installing it from one gallery, conserving it and re-installing in another gallery has been an amazing journey for all concerned.

'Our conservation journey continues as we ensure the specimen is cleaned and cared for whilst on display in Hintze Hall. New challenges await.'