Crane lifts 3 tons of whale bones into Field Museum

April 6, 2011 4:27:26 AM PDT
How do you get a 60-foot-long whale through an 8-foot-high door? Very carefully.

The south end of the Field Museum was littered with cranes and crates Tuesday. Those heavy-lifting cranes were used to move the huge crates- filled with whale bones- inside for an exhibit that opens in May.

"We are actually crating in four large crates for out next exhibition called "Whales: Giants of the Deep," Tom Skwerski, project manager of exhibitions, said. "These are objects that are in crates that are too big to fit in our freight elevator at our loading dock."

The Field Museum's horse and T. Rex exhibits will soon be joined by whales. Inside one of the crates: the skull of a giant sperm whale. But it won't be easy getting over 6,000 pounds of crated bones through doors built for humans.

"Tight squeeze. We made it with an inch to spare... very relieved," Skwerski said.

The exhibit, when it opens on May 20th, will explain the evolution of whales ... from 55 million years ago up to the present. The star of the show will probably be the giant sperm whale found in New Zealand eight years ago.

"This is the skull of a male sperm whale. It probably weighs about 1800 pounds," Skwerski said. "Big brain. Biggest in the world."

Sperm whales have big, blocky Moby Dick heads. In the ocean, they can grow beyond 60 feet long.

"This one we have in the exhibition is about sixty five feet long and they actually can dive past a mile in the ocean and they can stay under water for over an hour," Skwerski said.

Learn more about the Field's exhibit, including Whales: Giants of the Deep, at