Monday, April 22, 2013

February 1, 2013, the Pratt Museum Community Gray Whale Skeleton was presented to the public as part of Homer's First Friday events. The Exhibit is called Encounters: Whales in our Waters.

Gray Whale Skeleton finally hung (and whole) inside the museum gallery.

Whales eye view of the rest of the gallery.

One has to admit that he does have a beautiful tail.

The rest of the exhibit was built around the whale skeleton.
Here Museum Curator, Scott Bartlett, installs another part of the exhibit.

The Gray Whale Skeleton was certainly the star of the show.

Many folks showed up for the exhibit opening.
And there was cake!

 A job well done by the Pratt Museum and the 
Homer Community Volunteers! Thank you!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The gray whale skeleton was moved from the workshop into the museum building Saturday, January 6, 2013, by a great team of 25 community volunteers. Thank you to all who participated.

So, this is where everyone got started--in the museum's workshop--where the different sections of the whale skeleton have been stored for these last few months.

Lee Post demonstrating where (and where not) the sections could be lifted and handled.

Then it was out the door of the workshop.

Down a ramp.

Across an icy parking lot.

Oh cool! A watercolor photo! (^-^) Then up the ramp to the front door of the museum building.

"Hey! What's all the racket?!!!" (The museum resident moose came to investigate.)

Some sections of the whale had been stored hanging close to the ceiling of the workshop, like the skull, tail and flippers.

So those sections had to be lowered down to the capable hands of the volunteers.

The skull got to ride on its own cart across the icy parking lot.

The jaws were transported . . .

. . .one half at a time.

Some sections, like these cervical vertebrae, were sent special delivery.

There goes one flipper. Looks like worried dad (behind them) is keeping a watchful eye.

And there goes the next flipper.

Ah, everything made it safe and sound inside the museum.

Hey beaked whale, you've got company!

Cool view. Lee spent the next day getting the sections ready to be put together . . .

Like attaching the ribs to the spine and the scapulae attached to the ribs.

That included cutting bolts and adding the pretty brass nuts to the rib cage frame.

As one observer said--the whale has beautiful nuts. All 68 of them.

Sunday, August 26, 2012


by Lee Post

Hey builders of the bones,

Today is the day that we're going to call the project done. The problem being—as long as it is in sections, floating around in space like some chopped up zombie, it's hard to wrap myself around any sense of done-ness. But since done, finished, and happily whole won't likely happen until January, and even then it is but a temporary condition of completion before coming down again after the exhibit is over to await a more permanent dry ocean to swim in, I'm going to make a "Declaration of Doneness" to borrow a term from a well known local builder.

The whale got his head together this week. Even got his jaws on straight. It was heads and tails however, as Sam got the tail outline back from the welder all in one piece. (Thank you for such a beautiful job, Glenn from Glenn's Welding.) The tail outline was installed and as soon as the sections can be united, the whale will be able to swim again.

What's left is a bit of painting of the metalwork and installing the jaws again. Being that it just got done today—I haven't even wrapped myself around the concept that there is no whale project to go to tomorrow. No group of volunteers giving up their summer to go work with on bones. No daily doses of excitement as various parts of the skeleton come together. No planning what the group will be needing for the next day's progress. No designing, measuring, plotting, sketching, building bones in my sleep, problem solving for the next day's challenges. Which means—YOU DID IT!

In 49 days of work (A very Alaskan Number) 51 of you put in over 800 hours of time and converted a rather rough pile of chipped, abraded, consolidated whale bones from a 38-foot gray whale, into what is going to be a world-class exhibit featuring one of the nicest gray whale skeletons ever assembled. Wait til you see it.

It seems like only yesterday we were first setting up the room and bringing the bones out of storage from the crawl space.

Well done bone-builders.

Lee Post

Today, August 26, 2012, marks the 49th day of work done to the Pratt Museum's Homer Community Gray Whale Skeleton. It is also the day that your Blogster can finally say that the skeleton is . . . done-done. During the last few days Lee, Sam, Gaye and Wes, have been working on the finishing touches. Today the paint fairy again waved her magic brush and put a coat of primer on the metalwork that will hold the skull and jaws in place. By Tuesday all coats of paint on the metalwork should be dry. On Wednesday the skull will be put back together one more time, and will be hoisted to the ceiling for storage to await its debut.

51 individuals at some point worked on the articulation of this skeleton, amassing roughly 840 volunteer hours in 49 days (exact time not yet calculated). Whether they donated 30 minutes of their time or 100 hours, we are very grateful for each and every minute. You were all wonderful!!

After Lee's final state of the whale address is posted, your Blogster will place this account to rest until January when the skeleton is put on display at the museum. We will then return to post photos of the skeleton all in one piece. I leave you with these few photos of final events.

Mary Maly

This is the outer tail (flukes) that Sam Smith sculpted for our whale, using aluminum tubing. The measurements for the flukes were taken from a same-sized gray whale from West Seattle, salvaged in 2010. Kristin Wilkinson of NOAA Fisheries graciously provided those measurements to us, gathered by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and Cascadia Research biologists.
Sam attaching the sculpture to the tail vertebrae.
Arial shot!
The notch was attached to the very last tail vertebra with brass.
This photo of Wes Cartey is dedicated to his wife, Cheyenne. Now the whale too, has double nose studs.
Sleep tight whale. We'll see you again in January.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Well, gray whale skeleton fans, your Blogster keeps asking, "Is it done yet? Is it done yet?" but I'm starting to believe that this is one of those never ending projects that come along every so often. . .BUT! . . .For the most part the whale skeleton is finished. . . EXCEPT!  . . .For some fussing and primping.

The skull cradle is now finished, thanks to the expertise of Glenn and his crew at Glenn's Welding of Homer, Alaska. They fabricated the special cradle to the specifications of a template created by Marilyn Kirkham.

Yesterday, Lee worked all-by-his-lonesome (with some intermittent help from Art, in between Art's many other duties there at the Pratt Museum) to get the metalwork just right for the jaws, that will attach them to the upper part of the skull.

The primping that still needs to take place is: painting of the metalwork, attaching the jaw to the upper skull, inserting a rod between the mandibles (jaw) to hold them together, a few adjustments to the chevrons to get them in perfect alignment, and finish the outer tail sculpture. Once those things are completed, then the whale skeleton will be--as we say in your Blogster's world. . .done-done. We will continue to post photos and comments until then. And of course, there will be a final state of the whale address by Lee.

An interested reader asked why the whale skeleton won't be on display at the Pratt Museum until January. The whale skeleton will be hung in the museum's gallery in January (a major production in and of itself), when the museum is closed for renewal purposes. The skeleton is to be part of a temporary exhibit that opens in the gallery in February, so that is why it won't be hung until then.

Say AHHHH! You're standing in front of the whale at the tip of its nose, looking into the mouth of the whale's skull. The upper metal piece is the skull cradle and the lower metal piece is the jaw holder-upper.
These two photos show the skull and jaw placement, with a look at the metalwork at different angles. Once the metalwork is adjusted "just right" it will get a coat of paint.

Perfectly balanced, this whale skull swims again.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Okay gray whale skeleton fans, sorry there haven't been any new blogs in awhile. As the whale skeleton articulation comes to a close, fewer and fewer updates will happen as the process slows way down for the end. In fact, this may be one of the final blogs. This week, the last pieces of hanging metal were fabricated. As they were being finished, the crew got a bit silly.
HIGH FIVE! Or in this case, high four! (^-^) The finished pieces of the skeleton were hung from the ceiling (with care) of the workshop as a way to store them until the museum 
is ready to hang the whale skeleton for display in January.
Looks like you're a quart low.
But, I can't reach that high!
Smile for the camera, Boots. See, just like mummy.

HEY! I thought we were articulating a whale skeleton, not an alien!
Some serious work was done as Gaye added the  finishing touches to one of the mandibles. 
Nice before and after shot of the magic Gaye has performed on these bones.
Our whale is beautiful, thanks to you Gaye.