The 1930s model

The Museum is also home to a vast model of a blue whale.

It was made to complement the skeleton, and was built from plaster, wire and wood.

A Blue Whale skeleton

It was constructed before anyone had properly studied a living whale.

In the 1930s, its makers relied on images of beached carcasses, which become bloated after the animals die.

The Museum's technical assistant and taxidermist, Percy Stammwitz, started work on the model in 1936.

He used giant paper cut-outs to measure the wooden sections and overlaid the structure with wire, before finishing it with plaster.

Rumours abound that during the two-year construction period, workers used the whale's belly as a canteen area.

The construction was an engineering feat, despite its anatomical inaccuracies.

Experts now know that blue whales are far more streamlined than this model suggests, after the close study of specimens like the one in Hintze Hall.

© The Trustees of the Natural History Museum Privacy Policy Terms & Conditions Close