The Whale Campaign

The sperm whale – a real heavyweight at Forum Wissen

Above the heads of the visitors to Café Liesel at Forum Wissen hovers the 17-metre-long sperm whale from the University of Göttingen’s Zoological Collection. Or rather: its skeleton. It consists of 123 individual bones, and the skull alone weighs 500 kilograms. The skeleton weighs 1.2 tonnes in total. Sperm whales are impressive animals in many respects – and not just because of their body length. No other mammal on earth has a larger brain than the sperm whale. These marine mammals are capable of complex communication: Each individual group has its own unique dialect. Another surprising fact: the closest relative of the sperm whale is the hippopotamus. From the Salon on the upper floor, you can meet the whale at eye level in the Forum Wissen. You can gain an insight into the steps taken to prepare the beached whale so that it can be marvelled at in the Forum Wissen for many years to come on the University of Göttingen’s YouTube channel.

Thank you to all supporters of our fundraising campaign!

As one of the public’s favourites, the skeleton of the ‘Göttingen’ sperm whale has returned from the former Zoological Museum to its former location, today’s Forum Wissen in Berliner Straße, following extensive restoration work. The sperm whale skeleton was prepared for its return to the Forum Wissen with a great deal of restoration expertise and arranged in a lifelike manner with the help of a steel structure. The skeleton now floats under the ceiling of the atrium and can be marvelled at when visiting the café.

In January 2023, the imposing skull was transported into the atrium of Forum Wissen, with the other parts of the skeleton following. Money was raised through an appeal for donations and a painting competition to finance the removal and safe installation of the whale skeleton.
Special thanks to all participants! We would also like to thank our sponsoring organisation, Sparkasse Göttingen and the Alumni Association of the University of Göttingen. Further insights into the campaign can be found on the Forum Wissen blog!

Walheimat Göttingen

To finance the elaborate hanging of the sperm whale skeleton in the atrium of the Forum Wissen, the University of Göttingen, the Förderkreis Forum Wissen e.V., and the Alumni Göttingen e.V. announced a painting competition. Under the motto “Walheimat Göttingen,” over 500 paintings were submitted between November 2022 and March 2023. The youngest participant was two years old, while the oldest was 71. The Forum Wissen blog provides further insights into the campaign.

Walheimat Göttingen “The ‘Albani-Wal’ Sets an Example in Schools”

Students from the Albanischule Göttingen engaged artistically with the sperm whale as part of the painting competition for the ‘Göttinger Wal’ in spring 2023. The motif is available as a postcard in the Forum Wissen museum shop.

Wal-Bild von der Albani Schule Göttingen im Forum Wissen