Our family always gets excited about new exhibits at the Museum of Natural History. The newest one, Whales: Giants of the Deep, does not disappoint.
The Museum has an impressive ability to consistently curate exhibits that are family-friendly and really interesting for all age groups. While the little ones might not have the ability or patience to read all the informative placards dispersed throughout the exhibit, there is still plenty for them to see, hear, watch and play that keeps them fully engaged while also learning!
Upon entering the exhibit, we were fascinated to see whale evolution through videos and models. We learned how over 50 million years ago, whales evolved from hoofed animals with four legs, to the giant sea creatures we now know. It was interesting to learn how they gradually lost their hind legs, while their forelimbs became flippers; their nostrils transformed into blowholes and their lungs adapted over time in order to allow them to spend longer periods underwater.
A short animated video explained the concept of ‘echolocation’, a whale’s ability to send out high frequency noises or clicks and listen for their echo to bounce back signaling the location of it’s unsuspecting prey. My daughters found echolocation very ‘cool’ and wished they could use it to find treats in our apartment.
As we made our way though the exhibit space, we learned about whaling, saw images of strandings, and became more aware of current regulations conserving and protecting whale populations. The videos were so compelling and inspiring that our daughters asked how they can get involved in the protection and conservation of whales.
The history of the relationship between humans and whales, dating back to the traditions of the Maori whale riders, was beautifully depicted in a thoughtful video.
Dispersed throughout the exhibit are more than 20 whale skeletons and skulls, including the real skeleton of a male sperm whale measuring 58 feet long! We were also able to clearly see the marked difference between toothed whales (eating prey one by one), and Baleen Whales (filter feeders).
Hands down, our kids’ favorite part of the exhibit was the model of the blue whale’s heart that was big enough for them to crawl into. Once inside, they heard the heartbeat and read all sorts of facts about the size of and weight of this massive organ.
We left the exhibit (feeling very small) having a much greater understanding and appreciation for these gigantic aquatic mammals. Their history, anatomy, evolution and historical connection with humans is truly impressive. Our girls now want our next vacation to include not only whale watching, but also, if possible, the opportunity to RIDE whales, as the Maoris did many moons ago!
This must-see exhibit, Whales: Giants of the Deep will remain on view at the Museum of Natural History until January 5, 2014.
Prior to becoming a stay at home mom, Mina was an HR Recruiter for years. Now her time is spent happily juggling the demands of two young daughters while trying to expose them to the endless adventures the city has to offer.
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