The Natural History Museum up on a hill in Gothenburg, only a stone throw away from the Linné university campus is a place not to miss if you want to see what's been dubbed the "Malm Whale", a young Blue Whale male, the only whale stuffed on display in the world. Stranded on October 29th, 1865, in the Askim Bay near Gothenburg,

the whale was found by a local fisher, Olof Larsson, and sold to August Malm, then curator at the museum.

It was an epic struggle to safeguard the whale, transport it and taking out the blubber, inner organs, preserve the hide etc. when it was already starting to putrify. The stench was indescribable. The sheer size and weight was a huge challenge to Malm's ambition to stuff the animal.

With the aid of his previous measurements and photographs, Malm prepared a sketch of the whale in scale 1:10. This was the basis for a model which was photographed, and replicated with a cast. A slender, life-size pine structure was the final construction on which to mount the skin.

When all was said and done, the great beast from the depth of the sea could go on tour!

In 1866 it was on display at the Industry and Art Fair in Stockholm. How did it get there? Cut into six big sections that would just about made to fit into boxcars.

It was THE attraction at the fair with royalty drinking coffee in its belly clad with blue cloth with golden stars.

Normal mortals had also been able to get into the 16 meter long animal for a fee. Just before the turn of the century that access had been closed down and it's now opened only for special occasions, such as on Swedish election day every four years, ‘valdagen’, which literally means ‘whale day’.

Click here for more details of the story displayed right next to the Malm Whale (Source: Leviatan från Göteborg, Grönberg & Magnusson, Glänta Produktion, 2002).

Pictures by Cornelia E Nauen.