Hope is the new icon of the Natural History Museum, a stunning 4.5 tonne, 25 metre-long blue whale skeleton whose presence has transformed Hintze Hall. Suspended by steel wires from the building's cast iron beams and captured in a majestic swooping posture, her reconstruction is a work of art: as well as a feat of engineering.
Her story is almost as old as the Museum itself, beginning in 1891 when she was found beached off the coast of Ireland. A lucrative find for a local fisherman, her skeletal remains were sold to the Museum where workmen – using old newspapers and plaster – crudely fashioned them into a lifeless reconstruction. The project to restore her took three years to complete, including 10 months of painstaking laboratory work to clean and repair each of her 221 bones.
Combining the latest scientific research into the blue whale with behind-the-scenes imagery, this book sheds new light on the largest creature ever to have lived on Earth. In contrast to its enomnous frame the blue whale's existence is extremely precarious. Once hunted to the brink of extinction, numbers have now recovered and Hope is a symbol of humanity's power to shape a sustainable future.
In contrast to its enormous frame the blue whale’s existence is extremely precarious. Once hunted to the brink of extinction, numbers have now recovered and Hope is a symbol of humanity's power to shape a sustainable future.
Richard Sabin is the Principle Curator for Mammals at the Natural History Museum. He was the science lead for the 2017 'Whales' exhibition and starred in the BBC Horizon documentary on the reconstnjction of Hope.
Lorraine Cornish is Head of Conservation at the Natural History Museum. She is responsible for the care of the museum's 80 million specimens and led the installation of Hope's 4.5-tonne skeleton.