The history of the whale’s skeleton, which usually hangs from the ceiling in the hall, has fascinated visitors for generations. The female whale’s body was washed upon the shore of Norway in 1885. Subsequently, the skeleton was brought to the Bergen museum. However, as they already had a similar skeleton, they advertised it for sale. Professor Antonín Frič and his brother Václav responded to the advertisement and started a collection to purchase it.
In 1887, the patriots had the money needed, and the whale was brought via Hamburg to Prague. The skeleton was not yet treated, and the skeleton was degreased at the Ringhoffer factory.
However, the treatment was not effective, so the skeleton smelled of rancid fat until the 1960’s, when it was degreased again.
From Betlémské Square to Wenceslas Square
Plejtvák was first exhibited in the Náprstek Czech Industrial Museum on Betlémské Square in Prague. However, it was moved into the National Museum’s new building in Wenceslas Square just four years later, in 1892.
It has been seen here for over a hundred years, first on supports and later hanging from the ceiling, where it will soon return.
This is the first complete restoration of the skeleton, so it needs a thorough treatment. The heaviest part of the whale are the jaws, weighing half a ton. The entire skeleton weighs four tons and is 22.5 metres long.
The reopening of the exhibit depends not only on the restoration crew, but also on the reopening of the National Museum to the public.
For further information, please visit the museum’s website at: https://www.nm.cz/en.