A big change has occurred at the Natural History Museum in London. Dippy the Dinosaur is now gone after 136 years (and has gone on tour around Britain) and has been replaced by a massive skeleton of a Blue Whale that the museum has named Hope. The public unveiling is today, and from tomorrow visitors can see this skeleton in its full glory.
Here are the full details from the museum:
A stunning 25.2 metre real blue whale skeleton suspended from the ceiling will take centre stage in the spectacular space – giving visitors the opportunity to walk underneath the largest creature ever to have lived. Blue whales were hunted to the brink of extinction in the twentieth 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.
She will be 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 will be 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.
Until 2015 the skeleton was hung alongside a model whale in the mammals gallery and wasn’t in full view, but in her stunning new home, where you are able to walk underneath and see her from all angles, she is even more spectacular. It is impossible not to be struck by the sheer scale and majesty of this beautiful creature as she dives towards you when you enter the Museum.
It is estimated that in the 1800s there were approximately 250,000 blue whales across the world’s oceans. Decades of commercial hunting during the twentieth century drove the species to the brink of extinction, with only around 400 thought to be left in 1966. That year, in London, the world took a remarkable decision to legally protect blue whales from commercial hunting. Since then the population of blue whales has steadily grown to its current level of around 20,000 – the start of a viable population.
The skeleton now on display in Hintze Hall is from a whale that became stranded in 1891 in Wexford Harbour, Ireland, 10 years after the Museum opened in South Kensington. It was bought by the Museum and first went on display in the Mammal Hall in 1934, where it was suspended above a life-size model of a blue whale. Curators, conservation teams and engineers have been working on the blue whale skeleton for months – mostly in an off-site warehouse due to its enormous size – cleaning and preparing it for its new home in Hintze Hall.
Hope takes centre stage in Hintze Hall in place of Dippy, the Diplodocus dinosaur skeleton cast that is soon to embark on a two-year tour of the UK, visiting Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and five regions across England. The tour aims to connect the nation with nature and spark the imagination of a new generation of scientists, naturalists and environmentalists.
You may remember Dippy from the scene near the end of the recent Paddington Movie where Paddington jumped down the skeleton – now he’ll have to go back and see the whale!
Here’s a great video about the project: