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Natural History Museum 

Exhibit Supports

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In 2017 the Natural History Museum in London welcomed ‘Hope’, the blue whale now suspended in the main hall. Artem were approached to provide support solutions for displaying five various whale skulls for the associate exhibition 'Whales: Beneath the Surface'.

Project Breakdown 

The process began with site visits to 3D scan the various specimens in detail. This was to ensure accurate mating surfaces between the mounts and the original bones, without having to touch the precious objects. The mounts could then be designed and manufactured off site in Artem’s workshops. This was a tricky task due to the size, fragility and orientation of the specimens in their storage crates.

Once the scan data had been stitched together into working 3D digital models, the design element of the project began. The design team at the museum wanted to keep the support brackets as subtle and low profile as possible, while still satisfying the conservators that the load was spread in such a way as to protect the specimen.  We had to digitally open the mouths of the three killer whales because the scans were taken in their storage positions, mouths closed. With a steady flow of CG rendered options being put forward we arrived at a solution which satisfied design, conservation, and science departments, after which the manufacturing could take place.

We used our in-house 3D printing facility to produce the support pads, with metal rods down to laser cut base plates that lifted the specimens off the display surfaces. The rigid support pads were form-hugging and lined with different protective foam, depending on the weight of the specimen.

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What might have seemed at first glance like a simple project, therefore, goes through many high tech stages to give an elegant solution, and ultimately one that fades into the background so the viewer simply appreciates the specimen displayed.

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