113-year-old whale skeleton dismantled ahead of museum refurbishment

Work is under way to dismantle and move a fragile 113-year-old whale skeleton ahead of a £12 million project to redevelop Hull's historic maritime sites.

The 40ft (12.2m) skeleton of the juvenile North Atlantic right whale – which was caught, with its mother, by a retired whaling captain near the coast of New York in 1907 – is one of the first objects to be moved as part of the refurbishment of Hull Maritime Museum.

It is one of 50,000 exhibits that will be documented, cleaned and carefully packed away into long-term storage in a task that is expected to take around a year to complete.

The Hull: Yorkshire's Maritime City project, which is being funded by Hull City Council and the National Lottery Heritage Fund, will see the restoration of the city's five key maritime heritage assets – Hull Maritime Museum, the Dock Office Chambers, the North End Shipyard, the Arctic Corsair, and the Spurn Lightship.

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113-year-old whale skeleton dismantled
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113-year-old whale skeleton dismantled
RETRANSMITTING CORRECTING THE INFORMATION ABOUT THE PROJECT FUNDING. Conservator Nigel Larkin begins work to dismantle a 40ft juvenile North Atlantic whale skeleton, the largest artefact within the Hull Maritime Museum's collection. (Photo by Danny Lawson/PA Images via Getty Images)
RETRANSMITTING CORRECTING THE INFORMATION ABOUT THE PROJECT FUNDING. Conservator Nigel Larkin begins work to dismantle a 40ft juvenile North Atlantic whale skeleton, the largest artefact within the Hull Maritime Museum's collection. (Photo by Danny Lawson/PA Images via Getty Images)
RETRANSMITTING CORRECTING THE INFORMATION ABOUT THE PROJECT FUNDING. Conservator Nigel Larkin begins work to dismantle a 40ft juvenile North Atlantic whale skeleton, the largest artefact within the Hull Maritime Museum's collection. (Photo by Danny Lawson/PA Images via Getty Images)
Conservator Nigel Larkin begins work to dismantle a 40ft juvenile North Atlantic whale skeleton, the largest artefact within the Hull Maritime Museum's collection. (Photo by Danny Lawson/PA Images via Getty Images)
RETRANSMITTING CORRECTING THE INFORMATION ABOUT THE PROJECT FUNDING. Conservator Nigel Larkin begins work to dismantle a 40ft juvenile North Atlantic whale skeleton, the largest artefact within the Hull Maritime Museum's collection. (Photo by Danny Lawson/PA Images via Getty Images)
Conservator Nigel Larkin begins work to dismantle a 40ft juvenile North Atlantic whale skeleton, the largest artefact within the Hull Maritime Museum's collection. (Photo by Danny Lawson/PA Images via Getty Images)
Conservator Nigel Larkin begins work to dismantle a 40ft juvenile North Atlantic whale skeleton, the largest artefact within the Hull Maritime Museum's collection. (Photo by Danny Lawson/PA Images via Getty Images)
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Nigel Larkin, a specialist whale conservator working on the project, said: "The museum has an important and fascinating collection that tells the story of Hull's unique maritime heritage.

"Cleaning and conserving such historic specimens is always a pleasure. We look forward to returning the whale skeletons cleaner, in better condition, and mounted ready for installation in the newly refurbished galleries."

Stathis Tsolis, conservation and engagement officer at Hull Maritime Museum, said: "The whale is well-remembered and cherished by many people visiting the museum over the last four decades and it is about to receive some much-needed care and conservation.

"North Atlantic right whales are currently endangered, with only an estimated 400 left. These days the threat is largely from ship collisions and entanglement in fishing gear.

"The rarity of this animal adds to the global significance of our specimen, which will hopefully change as time goes by. May the day come when skeletons of right whales are not so rare and important."

Hull City Council deputy leader Daren Hale said: "This is an important milestone in order to prepare the museum for its refurbishment.

"The whale and its tragic story will take centre stage within the new displays and exhibitions and in ways you have never seen before, educating visitors about their plight.

"This refurbishment to make this a building fit for the 21st century will not only tell the story of the building but create a fitting home for our exceptional collections and the stories they tell."

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