The Field Museum Announces Whales: Giants of the Deep

On May 20, 2011, The Field Museum will open an important exhibition Whales: Giants of the Deep which explores these fascinating creatures by showcasing fully articulated whale skeletons, hands-on activities, dramatic videos, and the latest findings in whale biology and evolution. The exhibition’s proud major sponsor is Wells Fargo.

The exhibition, organized by The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, also highlights how whales have influenced the lives of the indigenous peoples of the South Pacific. On display will be a pātaka taonga (storehouse of treasures) carved with whale-like images and filled with stunning adornments and deadly weapons made of whale bone and teeth from places such as New Zealand and Fiji.

The complex relationship between whales and the people of the South Pacific is a theme that runs throughout the exhibition. Through videos and text panels, exhibition visitors will meet people whose lives have been inextricably linked with whales, from legendary whale riders to scientists and former whaling families.
But make no mistake – whales are the stars of the show! Two fully articulated sperm whale skeletons (male and female) are nothing less than awe inspiring, measuring more than 58 and 32 feet in length, respectively. A model of the heart of a blue whale is so large – the size of a Volkswagen “Beetle” – children can climb through it. Mind-boggling facts are sprinkled throughout Whales: a whale’s tongue can weigh more than an elephant; gray whales migrate 12,000 miles each year – the same distance as three round trips from Chicago to Los Angeles; blue whales are the same size as a 737 airplane.

Models of ancient extinct animals show how land-dwelling mammals evolved over millions of years to become the whales and dolphins we know today. Sounds of whales can be heard and compared, and visitors will discover how some of these giants communicate with “songs” and others use echolocation to navigate and hunt.

Whales also explores the changing attitudes from the history of whaling to modern eco-tourism, examines different species of whales, details how they swim, feed, and mate, and why they sometimes strand themselves on land. Visitors will learn about today’s conservation efforts and how factors such as pollution and climate change impact whales and their habitats.

Whales: Giants of the Deep runs through January 16, 2012 and is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to become more familiar with some of the most mysterious and fascinating animals on earth. The Field Museum invites you to discover why these astonishing creatures continue to intrigue and inspire.

This exhibition was developed and presented by the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, and was made possible through the support of the New Zealand Government and the Smithsonian Institution.

Image: The Field Museum

The Field Museum
1400 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60605-2496
(312) 922-9410
fieldmuseum.org

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