The Whale Hearts

Our team has made four of these fibreglass Blue Whale hearts; the first two were for the Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa Tongarewa. We worked with Anton van Helden - Te Papa's marine mammal collection manager to model them. The third heart was created for Landschaftsverband Westfalen-Lippe (LWL Museum) in Muenster, Germany and the Ubersee Museum in Germany, with authorisation from Te Papa.

The model is life sized; at the time of the build there were no known pathological samples of Blue Whale hearts. For dimensions we used very old written accounts from early whalers to New Zealand. Photographs of a Minke Whale hearts were used for visual reference. A little bit of creative adjustment was used for health and safety and functionality reasons; for instance, the tunnels needed to allow for all children to be able to fit through the tunnels. All of the models need to be robust to withstand the interactions with children.

The hearts are designed for children to climb inside and learn about the amazing life cycle of a Blue Whale. Older viewers also get to fully appreciate the scale of the biggest living creature on earth. Human Dynamo Workshop made the hearts in two halves to enable cleaning, and ease of travel and installation. The model was hand sculpted from polystyrene foam, then fibreglassed, sanded and painted. The interactive includes a video screen, back-lit information panels and audio systems to complete the experience and help to understand the immense size of a Blue Whale.

2017 and 2018 finds our team fabricating our fifth blue whale heart, now being created with new computer aided design and fabrication techniques.