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Beaty Biodiversity Centre Unveils Canada's Largest Blue Whale Skeleton Exhibit
People attending the official opening of the Beaty Biodiversity Museum are framed by the skeleton of a blue whale hanging in gallery at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, British Columbia. The skeleton of the whale is hanging in a two story atrium as part of the museum. REUTERS/Andy Clark

VANCOUVER.- The University of British Columbia officially opened the Beaty Biodiversity Centre, new home to some of the world’s top biodiversity researchers and Canada’s largest blue whale skeleton exhibit.

The centre houses the Biodiversity Research Centre, which has brought 25 principal investigators and their teams under one roof, and the Beaty Biodiversity Museum, with more than two million specimens, slated to open this fall.

The 11,550-sq. metre, four-storey building is designed to facilitate collaboration among researchers from different disciplines. The building has innovative sustainability features such as a green roof and water channel that supports aquatic plants and insects while helping reduce storm water surges. The $50-million project is made possible with support from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), the Province of British Columbia, an $8-million gift from UBC alumni Ross and Trisha Beaty and a $3-million gift from the djavad mowafaghian foundation.

UBC President Stephen Toope was joined by Premier Gordon Campbell, CFI President Eliot Phillipson, Ross Beaty and Hamid Eshghi, president of the djavad mowafaghian foundation, for today’s opening ceremony.

“The Beaty Biodiversity Centre exemplifies UBC’s goal to engage and inspire,” said Prof. Toope. “The synergy and intellectual discourse enabled by the shared research space, and the curiosity and reflection inspired by the museum’s public programs, will have an enormous impact on our understanding of our complex and interconnected world.”

“The CFI is proud to support leading-edge research by UBC scientists that will not only advance basic knowledge on the origins of life but inform critically important conservation efforts to maintain biodiversity in Canada and around the world,” said Phillipson.

“By investing in cutting-edge labs and equipment, we are giving these talented researchers the tools to answer fundamental questions about how species emerge, and how to conserve those that are endangered,” said Premier Campbell, who noted that B.C. is the most biodiverse province or territory in Canada. “In the face of climate change, we are working to find ways to sustain life in all its forms, even as we take action to protect our natural world by reducing our carbon footprint.”

“The Beaty Biodiversity Centre will enrich our local society, Canadian society, and global society by carrying out research and displaying some of the species and biodiversity of our world,” said Ross Beaty. “And it will teach existing and future generations – our children – the wonders and fragility of many of the species we all share the earth with.”

The opening ceremony was followed by the naming of the Djavad Mowafaghian Atrium, a two-storey glass gallery in the Beaty Biodiversity Museum that houses the 25-metre skeleton of a blue whale that washed ashore on the coast of Prince Edward Island in 1987. Articulated in the species’ signature lunge-feeding pose, the UBC blue whale is the largest skeleton exhibit in the world suspended without external armature.

“The museum’s atrium will become a focal point for outreach and educational activities that will help school children and the general public gain a better understanding of, and appreciation for, the interconnectedness of all living things on earth,” said Djavad Mowafaghian in a statement. “The knowledge of where we come from and where we are going will entice us to be more active in helping to improve our environment for our children.”

The museum also announced summer preview dates for the blue whale exhibit in advance of the museum’s fall public opening. On May 22 – International Day of Biological Diversity – the public is invited to see the blue whale and celebrate her journey with the people from PEI and B.C. who worked to save her.

Beaty Biodiversity Centre | Stephen Toope | Blue Whale Skeleton Exhibit |

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