Duchess of Cambridge sees new blue whale at National History Museum launch

The Duchess of Cambridge tonight attended the launch of the re-imagined Hintze Hall at the National History Museum, after Dippy the Dinosaur’s departure; here, Kate told guests how much George and Charlotte love nature.

The Duchess of Cambridge in Hintze Hall tonight (NHM)

Attending in her capacity as patron of the National History Museum, Kate chatted with fellow guests to see the updated hall, including Sir David Attenborough.

The stunning new exhibit is the 25.2 metre skeleton of a real blue whale, suspended from the ceiling, allowing visitors to walk underneath the largest creature ever to have graced the planet.

In the biggest revamp the museum has seen in its 136 year history, the blue whale, nicknamed Hope, replaces Dippy the famous Diplodocus dinosaur skeleton cast that has been on display in Hintze Hall since 1979. Dippy is now to embark on a two year tour of the UK.

The Duchess of Cambridge, Patron of the Natural History Museum, attends the launch of the spectacularly transformed Hintze Hall, with Sir David Attenborough. ‘Hope’ the blue whale has replaced Dippy (NHM)

Lorraine Cornish, the Museum’s Head of Conservation, said: “Hope is the only blue whale skeleton in the world to be hung in the diving lunge feeding position. Suspending such a large, complex and historical specimen from a Victorian ceiling was always going to be challenging, but we were determined to show her in as lifelike position as possible and we are thrilled that the result is truly spectacular.

“Whilst working on the 221 bones we uncovered past conservation treatments, such as the use of newspaper in the 1930s to fill the gaps between the vertebrae, and we were able to use new methods for the first time, including 3D printing a small number of bones missing from the right flipper.”

Addressing the hundreds of invited guests, the Duchess said: “Like many of you here tonight, I remember visiting the Natural History Museum as a child, and being inspired with a love of nature.

“And now, as a parent myself, I am experiencing the joy all over again with my own children, who adore coming here, and it is not just to see the T-Rex mind you.

“Who could fail to be inspired standing here in this wonderful hall. It is so fitting to see the ocean now taking centre stage, with many other marine specimens as star attractions in this splendid Hintze Hall.”

“I, personally, have always been in awe of the sea. Our Blue Whale, Hope, at the heart of the museum will help visitors that come here, experience the wonders of our oceans.”

Catherine was clearly enthused by the blue whale skeleton and discussing the new exhibition with Sir David, remarked: “It tells a completely different story. You must have seen they’ve made a few changes here over the years.”

The relaunch of Hintze Hall is the first major moment in a decade of transformation that will see the Museum ambitiously redevelop its outside space and make the collections accessible to people all over the UK and globally through tours and digitisation.

The Duchess of Cambridge spoke to curators and conservators at the museum, too, learning more about ocean ecology and issues the water and its inhabitants face; these areas are of particular interest to Catherine.

Hope will be joined in Hintze Hall by hundreds of new specimens, chosen to celebrate the wonder and beauty of the natural world, from the origins of the universe, to the story of evolution and diversity in the world today. Ten star specimens will be arranged in the ground floor alcoves – known as Wonder Bays – including a 4.5-billion-year-old meteorite, a Mantellisaurus dinosaur skeleton, giraffes and a blue marlin.

All photos courtesy of the Natural History Museum.

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