Museum of Zoology calls on public to sing like finback and provide voices for new Whale Hall

By Ben Miller | 11 November 2014

Singing workshops to allow public to recreate the songs of the oceans for giant skeleton's new Whale Hall home

A photo of the skeleton of a whale hanging in a kind of carpark enclosure
© Tom Mayle
Ever wanted to echo the inimitable sound of limpets grazing on rocks, or the call of whales as they sing beneath the waves? Chris Watson, the sound artist known for his work alongside David Attenborough and subsequent anointment as perhaps Britain’s finest recorder of the natural world, is leading a “highly participatory” workshop at the Polar Museum in Cambridge this weekend, backed by voice teacher and community choir leader Rowena Whitehead.

The pair want to help the public create a symphony of the oceans for the Museum of Zoology, to be played when its 21-metre long finback whale reappears once the venue reopens with a new Whale Hall in 2016.

“The Finback Whale skeleton of the Museum of Zoology is such an iconic and inspiring specimen,” says Dr Rosalyn Wade.

“I’d like to encourage as many people as possible to take part and add their voice to the sound of the sea. It is wonderful to be able to create an atmosphere fit for such a creature, and to give a new experience to visitors to the museum.”

Bought by public subscription in 1866, the skeleton had been stranded on a Sussex bay, where it drew crowds before being displayed at Hastings Cricket Ground.

Honouring this massive mammal, a series of 20 future workshops, held around the area next year, will explore how animals produce and perceive sounds, as well as giving their singers the confidence to make the most of their own voice. Some of the loudest sounds on the planet, ranging from weapons to vibrations in seawater, are on the agenda.

  • Workshop free and open to all (age 8+). Places limited, booking required. Email umzc@zoo.cam.ac.uk to book.

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