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Exhibition Highlights

  • Explore whale biology, anatomy, history and behavior, as you learn about the many whale species that inhabit the oceans, including some whales that lived 50 million years ago.
  • Interactive features allow visitors to dive to the depths of the sea with a mighty sperm whale in the hunt for giant squid, climb through a life-sized whale heart as big as a car, and design their own dolphin. They can also discover how whales swim, feed, communicate and reproduce.
  • One of the exhibit’s major highlights puts visitors almost eye level with two massive whale skeletons—including an astonishing 58-foot-long sperm whale skeleton 
  • Explore the stories of the “Whale People” of the South Pacific, whose lives have been linked with whales for centuries—from legendary whale riders to whale scientists and former whaling families. The exhibition reveals the complex relationships that the Māori culture of the South Pacific and other cultures have with whales as a source of food, status, legends and spirituality.
  • The exhibition features impressive weapons made from large whale bones and delicate ornaments fashioned from whale teeth, as well as other rare objects of cultural significance to the Maori culture native to the South Pacific.
  • The whale head that anchors one of the exhibition’s theaters is the actual model used in the film Whale Rider,which brought the Pacific whale riding tradition to a worldwide audience. 
  • The exhibition also reveals the science behind how whales get stranded, explores the techniques people use to save whales, and showcases the changing attitude that has led people from hunting whales to protecting them.
  • Fernbank created a Whales Local Connection in the exhibition to tell the story of whales in Georgia.Graphic panels focus on the North Atlantic right whale (our state marine mammal), Georgiacetus (one of the oldest whale fossils in North America), and whale strandings along our coast.

Fast Facts

The exhibition features artifacts, real whale specimens, and models. Many objects are real, not replicas!

  • Real skeletons=5
  • Real skulls =15
  • Real cultural artifacts = 43

Whales: Giants of the Deep was developed and presented by the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. This exhibition was made possible through the support of the New Zealand Government.

Whales: Giants of the Deep is made possible in part by the Price Gilbert, Jr. Charitable Fund.