Blue Whale Model

Part of Hall of Ocean Life.

94 foot long fiberglass model of a female blue whale is suspended from the ceiling of the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life. D. Finnin/© AMNH
It's the largest animal on Earth.

In fact, the blue whale is the biggest animal ever known to have existed. It's even bigger than the enormous dinosaurs that lived over 65 million years ago.

This colossal species uses plates of baleen in its mouth to filter huge numbers of tiny prey, including small crustaceans called krill. Blue whales migrate long distances, traveling alone or in small groups called pods. They breed in warm southern waters during the winter and feed in polar seas during the spring and summer.

The Annotated Blue Whale Model

The Museum's iconic blue whale model, first constructed in the mid-1960s, was based on photographs of a female blue whale found dead in 1925 off the southern tip of South America. At the time, little was known about blue whales in their natural habitats. 

Click on the + signs below to find out more about the Museum's blue whale model.

Archival image of the initial installation of the 94-foot-long blue whale model.

By 2001, Museum artists working on the renovation of the 94-foot-long model had many more images and live footage of blue whales. They flattened the model's once overly-bulging eyes, corrected the blowholes, and tapered the tail. They also added a belly button–which visitors can find about four-fifths of the way down the model's body, a reminder of just one of the traits humans share with this majestic mammal.

At 21,000 pounds of foam and fiberglass, how does the model stay up? It's suspended by a single steel pipe, connected to structures hidden in both the model and the ceiling.


Each year, the blue whale model receives a thorough scrub. What does it take to clean this massive exhibit? Three days, an electric lift, an industrial vacuum cleaner, and strong arms! See for yourself in the video below.

Celebrate #AMNH150 #WHALE

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