Archives Puzzles: The Scale of the Whale

Have a little fun with images from our collections that have been designated as open access. Anyone can now download, transform, share, and reuse millions of images as part of Smithsonian Open Access.

Each Monday, sit back, relax, and ease into the work week with puzzles created from images in our collections that have been designated as open access. Anyone can now download, transform, share, and reuse these images as part of Smithsonian Open Access, launched in 2020.

Last week, Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History celebrated #WhaleWeekSI in advance of World Whale Day. Today, we’re flipping into the fun. In the 1950s, Smithsonian staff began working on a 94-foot-long model that was based on the measurements of a blue whale model at the British Museum of Natural History and a mammal that was caught in the Antarctic in 1926. Museum visitors first saw the completed life-size model in the Life in the Sea Hall in 1963. 

As technology advanced and scientists could capture more accurate photographs of the marine mammal, however, the Smithsonian realized its new whale model was flawed. In 1976, the Museum added an exhibit label, clarifying that the blue whale’s diving posture needed to be reevaluated, especially in the area of its throat. For more information about the fate of the model, read about the history of whales at the Institution from Smithsonian’s Ocean Portal.

The Original

A whale model hangs from the ceiling in an exhibit hall.

The Puzzle

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