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Meeting Hope at the Hintze Hall re-opening

18th July 2017

On the 14th July, the Natural History Museum unveiled the new centrepiece of its reimagined Hintze Hall - the beginning of the biggest transformation the museum has seen in its 136 year history. A stunning 25.2 metre real blue whale skeleton, otherwise known as Hope, has been suspended from the ceiling in the spectacular space - giving visitors the opportunity to walk underneath the largest creature ever to have lived. Hope has been joined in Hintze Hall by ten iconic specimens, chosen to celebrate the wonder and beauty of the natural world in the hall alcoves, now known as Wonder Bays. We were fortunate enough to preview the incredible hall changeover before public viewing - read on to gain an exclusive sneak peek of the dramatic transformation...

Left: The incredible architecture of the Natural History Museum, Right: The entrance to Hintze Hall - where Hope has been displayed.

It is estimated that in the 1800s there were approximately 250,00 blue whales across the world's oceans. Decades of commercial hunting during the 20th Century drove the species to the brink of extinction, with only around 400 thought to be left alive in 1966. That year, the word made 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 Museum chose to name the female blue whale Hope, as a symbol of humanity's power to shape a sustainable future, and a reminder of the fragility of life and the responsibility we have towards our planet.

Hope is suspended dramatically from the ceiling of Hintze Hall, in a position that mimics diving.

"The Museum chose to name the female blue whale Hope, as a symbol of humanity's power to shape a sustainable future."

Left and right: Museum guests can walk under the huge skeleton and admire the largest creature ever to have lived.

Hope takes centre stage within Hintze Hall in place of Dippy, the Diplodocus dinosaur skeleton cast that called the Museum its home since 1979. Dippy is soon to embark on a two year tour of the UK, visiting Scotland, Northern Ireland and 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. 

The new whale installation consists of 221 bones, and spans the entire length of Hintze Hall.

Left: The giraffe is an evolutionary relative of the blue whale, both are Artiodactyls. Right: The striking blue marlin is the largest of the Atlantic marlins and one of the fiercest predators of the seas.

Hope is surrounded by ten new displayed - the 'Wonder Bays'. Each has been picked out by Museum scientists from their vast collection of over 80 million specimens. The five on the eastern side represent the origins and evolution of life on Earth, whilst the western specimens show the diversity of life today. Together with Hope, they tell some of the most compelling stories about the past, present and future of our planet. 

The mastodon is a distant relative of the mammoth and went extinct around 13,000 years ago due to climate change, habitat loss and human hunting.

Left: Three tall glass panels of colourful seaweeds fill the Wonder Bays, highlighting the incredible complexity of the Tree of Life. Right: The dynamic display of insects shows all living orders of insects, including airborne swarms of beetles, butterflies, moths, bees, wasps and flies.

We urge you to visit this truly inspirational exhibit within Hintze Hall, showcasing the vital importance of sustainability for continued life on our beautiful planet. Which artefact is your firm favourite? 

The Natural History Museum
Cromwell Road
London SW7 5BD
Open daily 10:00 - 17:50

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