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The American Museum of Natural History announces Whales: Giants of the Deep
A visitor looks at a display during a preview of "Whales: Giant of the Deep", the latest special exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, March 20, 2013. The exhibition, which will run from March 23, 2013 to January 5, 2014, transports visitors to the underwater world of the largest animals on Earth and exposes them to the latest research about these marine mammals as well as the central role they have played for thousands of years in human cultures. AFP PHOTO/EMMANUEL DUNAND.

NEW YORK, NY.- The American Museum of Natural History announces Whales: Giants of the Deep, a new exhibition that transports visitors to the vibrant underwater world of the mightiest animals on Earth. Whales explores the latest research about these marine mammals as well as the central role they have played for thousands of years in human cultures. From the traditions of New Zealand’s Maori whale riders and the Kwakwaka’wakw peoples of the Pacific Northwest to the international whaling industry and the rise of laws protecting whales from commercial hunting, the exhibition traces the close connections humans and whales have shared for centuries.

Through a variety of interactive exhibits, visitors will experience a re-created dive to the depths of the sea with a sperm whale on the hunt for a giant squid, crawl through a life-size replica of the heart of the blue whale—the largest living animal on the planet—listen to whale croons, and meet people whose lives have been inextricably linked with whales—from legendary whale riders to scientists and former whaling families.

On tour from the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, which houses one of the largest whale collections in the world, Whales features more than 20 skulls and skeletons from various whale species and showcases many rare specimens, including the real skeleton of a male sperm whale measuring 58 feet long (or about 18 feet longer than a school bus); life-size and scale models of whales common in the South Pacific; and ancient and contemporary objects made from whale bone and other materials such as weapons, chiefly adornments, and jewelry. The exhibition includes rarely-viewed specimens and artifacts from the American Museum of Natural History’s world-class collections, such as the massive skull of Andrewsarchus, a land-dwelling relative of whales, cultural objects depicting the power, majesty, and importance of whales to humans, and the log book from a whaling ship that sailed out of New Bedford, Massachusetts, in 1830.

In the exhibition’s Whale Lab, visitors can listen to the vocalizations of different whales and discover how they use sound to navigate, find food, and communicate; learn how scientists and amateur trackers identify individual whales on their migration through the Pacific Ocean; and explore the biology of whales, dolphins, and porpoises, including their streamlined bodies, remarkable feeding methods, and for some species, the ability to navigate or “see” with sound.

Whales also examines how humans have revered whales, hunted them, and explored their astounding adaptations to life in the sea for thousands of years. A series of videos highlights the close relationship between the people of New Zealand and whales, including the stories of three generations of whale-riding traditions, the history of the region’s whaling industry, and later efforts to protect whales from commercial hunters.

Whales will open on March 23, 2013, and remain on view until January 5, 2014. The exhibition is co-curated by John Flynn, Frick Curator of Fossil Mammals and Dean of the Museum’s Richard Gilder Graduate School. Flynn’s research focuses on the evolution of mammals, Mesozoic vertebrates, geological dating, plate tectonics, and biogeography.

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