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Art with the whale-factor at Museum of Zoology




Sculpture in the University Museum of Zoology, Jack Ashby, Museum Manager. Picture: Keith Heppell
Sculpture in the University Museum of Zoology, Jack Ashby, Museum Manager. Picture: Keith Heppell

A bespoke piece of artwork – inspired by Cambridge’s largest resident – has been gathering a lot of attention since it was installed in its new home.

Sculpture in the University Museum of Zoology. Picture: Keith Heppell
Sculpture in the University Museum of Zoology. Picture: Keith Heppell

The work sits underneath the 21 metre long skeleton of a fin whale hanging in the recently redeveloped University Museum of Zoology, and also acts as the attractions donation box.

Created by Matt Lane Sanderson, the artist behind the grasshopper that has made its home on top of the city’s Corpus Christi clock, the zoology sculpture was made using a variety of different recycled materials, including metal, wood and fabric.

The project came about when Matt approached the museum to look at another specimen for a project in Chelmsford.

“When I saw the scale of the redevelopment that was happening at the museum, I was keen to play a part in the project,” Matt said. “The museum asked whether I could produce an unusual donations box and that’s how the project began. The artwork I designed not only represents the whale, but also pays tribute to some of the dedicated people that have been involved with zoology here at Cambridge.”

Sculpture in the University Museum of Zoology. Picture: Keith Heppell
Sculpture in the University Museum of Zoology. Picture: Keith Heppell

The whale has been reimagined as a fantastical airship, crewed by models of various staff from the Department of Zoology alongside two world-famous zoology experts; Charles Darwin and Sir David Attenborough.

Matt started planning the sculpture two years ago and it took more than three months to make in his Herefordshire workshop.

Jack Ashby, museum manager, said: “This amazing piece of bespoke sculpture is a real asset to the museum, and we are incredibly privileged that Matt Lane Sanderson has created it for us. Visitors are clearly loving the new museum, so I hope they will also take time to look at the donations box, which has moving parts and includes a poem written especially by Matt for the museum.

“The inner workings of the whale represent both the sense of exploration and scientific discovery here in the room, as well as the ecological workings of the planet. It is a perfect artwork for our entrance hall.”

Sculpture in the University Museum of Zoology. Picture: Keith Heppell
Sculpture in the University Museum of Zoology. Picture: Keith Heppell

The museum, which is free to enter, said it has welcomed more than 60,000 visitors in the first three months since opening.



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