Following CAN Structure’s initial inspection and site survey of the roof trusses in the Hintze Hall at 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. During the project planning phase major risks had been identified. This included the potential risk of overloading the roof trusses during the actual lifting operation.
The lift of Hope the Blue Whale at the Natural History Museum
To mitigate this risk, CAN technicians used hand operated tirfor winches. This allowed minute adjustment on each of the 10, individually manned lifting locations. The armature anchor points were designed to swivel. With this in mind, it 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 of the lifting systems all linked to a central monitoring station. This enabled the lift controller (appointed person) to continuously monitor loads during the operation.
The skeleton was then lifted lifted and the desired orientation was achieved. To end this, permanent cables could be installed and the lifting equipment removed and derigged.