Meet Maine Here.

Man holding whale bones in a workshop.

Dan DenDanto of Whales and Nails

Suspended high within a new 4,130 square foot gallery, the whale-size attractions are the real thing – two humpback whale skeletons that will be the star creatures in the first ever exhibit of its kind.

One skeleton comes from a 45-foot long female humpback whale, named Vector by scientists who tracked and researched her for over 35 years. Vector migrated between the Gulf of Maine and the Caribbean (one of the longest animal migrations on earth) and was a five-time known mother. Vector died of unknown causes in the Gulf of Maine in 2019.

The second skeleton is from a juvenile humpback whale, not related to Vector, aged five to six months. The juvenile, like Vector, died of unknown causes in the Gulf of Maine. The juvenile skeleton will be the only one of its young age on display anywhere. Together, Vector and the juvenile will be the only pair of humpback whale skeletons, displaying the species range and size, in the world.

These two awe-inspiring humpback whale skeletons are currently being cleaned and prepared for exhibit by Whales and Nails, a company located in Seal Cove, Maine. The skill and knowledge behind Whales and Nails is Dan DenDanto. A senior scientist with Allied Whale at the College of the Atlantic, Dan has been cleaning, restoring, and articulating whale skeletons since 1990. He has prepared and installed skeletons in museums and science centers around the country.

Opportunities for exploration and discovery in the museum’s new exhibition are planned to be as dramatic and inspiring as the skeletons themselves. The exhibition will look at whale biology and evolution, the work of scientists who study whales, and the changes within the Gulf of Maine’s ecology. A glimpse at Maine’s whaling past will also be included, along with the purposes and products that drove those activities in the 1800s.

The exhibition of the whale skeletons, along with other new presentations planned for the reopened museum, are the most important advance – indeed, a sea change – since the Maine State Museum opened in the Cultural Building in 1971. It promises to be an unforgettable whale of an adventure!

2019 Mount Desert Islander story on Vector and the calf

Maine State Museum