December 31, 2013 AT 4:18 pm

Magical giant: The story of a much-loved museum whale

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Today marks the 75th anniversary of the life-size model blue whale at London’s Natural History Museum. The folks over at New Scientist have a great article telling the story of this giant replica.

This month, thousands of people will fall under the spell of a giant.

But this is no fairy tale or pantomime giant. It’s a life-size model of the blue whale, the world’s largest mammal. Now celebrating its 75th birthday, the 28.3-metre-long model dominates the mammal gallery at London’s Natural History Museum, dwarfing whale skeletons and other mammals.

Richard Sabin, the NHM’s principal curator of vertebrate collections, says the model was “incredibly ambitious” when it was built in the 1930s. He saw it as a 10-year-old on his first trip to London, nearly 40 years ago. “I was absolutely blown away,” he recalls. Back home, he raided school and local libraries for whale books.

When the model was unveiled at the end of 1938, it was the world’s only life-size replica of a blue whale. But other museums soon wanted to copy it. Some museums in the US made a point of making their version fractionally longer.

Read more.

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