Preparing to Hoist the Right Whale Model

Workers prepare to hoist the model of Phoenix, a model of an actual North Atlantic right whale, into position above the exhibit hall floor in the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC. Learn the story of Phoenix in the Tale of a Whale photo essay.

Whales, Phoenix

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Submitted by The Ocean Portal Team on
Hi KP, Thanks for the comment! Glad to hear about the spark for biology that you got from the museum. We hope that Phoenix, our full scale North Atlantic right whale will spark interest for visitors now! The Ocean Portal Team

Submitted by KP (not verified) on

I am a biologist and when I was 4 years old, I lived in the DC area. My mom would take me there and I was fascinated. I always credit that blue whale for sparking the first interest in biology. What a shame that it is gone.

Submitted by Andrea (not verified) on

This week-as an Ocean Hall navigator- day after Christmas, I had 3 people in the first hour ask me about the Blue Whale they remembered as a child. I guess we get a lot of people visiting home and the museum during Christmas as I don't get that question so often in one day. I like to talk about Phoenix as she is an accurate whale model- and I like her story

Submitted by Kirsten (not verified) on

I grew up with that whale! When I returned to my hometown of DC several years ago for the first time in many years, I asked what happened to it. I couldn't get a straight answer from Museum staff, other than that it was 'never coming back'. I guess no one wanted to break it to me... I, too, had hoped to have my kids stand under it one day like I did!

Submitted by The Ocean Portal Team on

The majority of the specimens you saw in 1964- the killer whale, dolphins and sharks- are currently hanging on the walls of the Smithsonian's Museum Support Center (MSC). However, the thresher shark still hangs at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History in the Ocean Hall.

Submitted by The Ocean Portal Team on

What Happened to the Smithsonian's 1963 Blue Whale Model?

It became the property of the contractor hired to dismantle the old exhibit space. In July of 2000 he tried to sell it on eBay, with a reserve of $2.25. The description read: “LIFE SIZE Blue Whale sculpture from the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of Natural History. (I KNOW THAT A WHALE IS NOT A FISH.) IT’S NO FLUKE, THIS IS FOR REAL!! 92 FEET LONG nose to fluke. ... I have been given the rights to find a new home for this gorgeous piece. ... This would make a fantastic showpiece for an amusement park or theme park, public aquarium, or municipality.” Such a show was not to be, however. When the model was removed from the steel wall supports, it came apart, making it unfit for sale, and the contractor was forced to dispose of it. The Museum was able to retain the flukes.

Learn more about the whales at the Smithsonian Institution.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on

Hi, I am wondering if the Smithsonian still has the model of the Blue Whale somewhere? I wanted to let my children stand under a model of the biggest animal on earth but it's gone now???? Please answer my inquiry. thank you.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on

I, to, wonder what happened to that magnificent Blue Whale that hung from the ceiling. Where did it go?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on

what happen to the models of Blue Whale, Killer whale, dolphins and sharks (I saw them in the year of 1964.)?????