Since it opened in 1869, the American Museum of Natural History has been the place to go in New York City for fascinating things like dinosaur bones, rarified specimens and specialized collections of astrophysical data. And beginning this March, it will be the new home to an exhibit about one of the world’s most interesting mammals.
Whales: Giants of the Deep was developed by the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa and explores both the latest research about the marine animals and the important role they have played in human cultures. In particular, the exhibit examines the relationship between whales and humans, including the Maori whale riders of New Zealand and the Kwakwaka’wakw peoples of the Pacific Northwest.
Visitors can get hands-on experience through a variety of interactive exhibits, including crawling through a life-size replica of the heart of a blue whale (the largest living animal on the planet), “diving” to the bottom of the ocean with a sperm whale in search of giant squid, listening to whale croons and meeting people whose lives have been affected by whales.
Whales also features more than 20 skulls and skeletons from various whale species and rare specimens, including the skeleton of a male sperm whale that measures 58 feet long, the massive skull of Andrewsarchus (a land-dwelling relative of whales that lived around 40 million years ago), and objects made from whale bones.
In the exhibit’s Whale Lab, visitors can listen to the vocalizations of different whales, learn how whales use sound to find food, communicate and navigate the ocean, learn how scientists and amateur trackers identify individual whales, and explore the biology of whales, dolphins and porpoises.
Whales also includes a series of videos that highlight the close relationship between whales and the people of New Zealand, including the stories of three generations of whale riders, the history of the region’s whaling industry, and later efforts to protect whales from commercial hunters.
Whales: Giants of the Deep, opens March 23 and remains on view at the American Museum of Natural History until Jan. 5, 2014.
The museum is open daily from 10 am – 5:45 pm except on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day and is located at Central Park West at 79th St. (B, C to 81st St.).