Preparing the Gray Whale Skeleton for Installation

The whale skeleton had been stored in Thompson Hall 410 for 30 years. The first step in assembly was an inventory of the parts. The skeleton was then transported to Albert Shepard's workshop for pre-assembly.

Pictured here are lower jaw bones of the juvenile gray whale (rear) placed aside that of an adult (front).

Ribs are paired off and accounted for.

Inter-vertebral discs are arranged by size in hopes of finding the matching vertebrae.

Museum Director Peter Wimberger and student volunteer Eileen Kennedy match the discs to the vertebrae.

The relief of the disc and the recesses of the vertebrae fit perfectly together.

The spinal column casually assembled.

Albert Shepard makes final plans with Peter Wimberger about whale assembly.

Albert departs with the skeleton.

Albert Shepard cleans the bones with his his lab...uh...workshop.

Vertebrae are drilled for attachment to metal mounting bars (left). For rib attachment, vertebral processes and rib ends were drilled then plastic anchors were inserted. Eye screws were used to attach the ribs to the vertebrae (right).

Welding the frame for the rib assembly (left). Albert doing his Jonah impression while checking details of the rib assembly (right).

The assembled rib cage is transported back to Albert's workshop.

The mounting bar was bent to allow a graceful posturing of the whale

A diagram detailing the vertebrae/tube connection point.

After a successful re-assembly, students from a local high school are invited to Albert's workshop to learn about the whale.

Follow the rest of the whale's journey >>