Following CAN Structure’s initial inspection and site survey of the roof trusses in the Hintze Hall of the Natural History Museum back in 2014, CAN was asked to undertake the installation of the skeleton of a Blue Whale.

The whale skeleton and armature weighed 4.5 tonnes.  This had to be lifted up to suspension cables anchored to the roof trusses and orientated such that the whale skeleton had the appearance of commencing a ‘dive’.

The roof truss rigging and access work required to facilitate the lifting operation, whilst in an historic location, was relatively straightforward.  The major risk identified at planning stage was the risk of overloading the roof trusses during the lifting operation and thus collapsing the Natural History Museum roof.

To mitigate this risk, CAN technicians used hand operated tirfor winches that would allow minute adjustment on each of the 10, individually manned lifting locations.  The armature anchor points were designed to swivel which enabled the orientation of the skeleton to be adjusted without creating a spike in the loading of an individual roof truss.  In addition load cells were incorporated into each individual lifting system that were linked to a central monitoring station.  This enabled the lift controller (appointed person) to continuously monitor loads to each individual lifting system during the operation.

Once the skeleton had been lifted and the desired orientation achieved, permanent cables could be installed and the temporary lifting equipment removed.

Duration:       2 weeks

Client:            Natural History Museum

Location:       Natural History Museum, London

Link: The Blue Whale –  a three year labour of love