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Department of Zoology


Cambridge News slideshow of the whale being dismantled

Published in Cambridge News 30 September 2013

Zoologists in Cambridge will be having a whale of a time over the next few weeks, as they dismantle an iconic skeleton.

The huge whale frame – which has been suspended above the entrance to the Museum of Zoology for 26 years – will go back into storage once more while work is carried out as part of a development project.

The 70ft finback whale has been owned by Cambridge University since May 1866, after they purchased it when it was washed up at Pevensey Bay in Sussex in 1865.

It was initially suspended over skeletons of an African and Indian elephant in the old Museum of Zoology after 19 men carried it up the stairs, before that building was demolished in 1965.

The skeleton was brought out of storage years later and was re-displayed in its current location above the entrance to the new museum, using the original metal framework designed by the university’s engineering laboratory in the 1890s, and an extra beam built by Mackay Engineering.

And there the whale hung until yesterday when Nigel Larkin, a specialist conservator with vast experience of dismantling large zoological artefacts, and his team started their work taking the Cambridge landmark apart.

The skeleton will be back on display in June 2016 when the museum is expected to reopen after a three-year £3.67m refurbishment project.

See slideshow here