November 1888: Whale skeleton goes on show in Prague

Skeleton of a fin whale in the National Museum in Prague

Some 135 years ago, on November 28, 1888, the 22-metre skeleton of a fin whale went on show in Prague, the first chance the city’s citizens had to experience such a sight.

In 1885 natural scientist Antonín Frič, the head of the zoological and paleontological collections of the Museum of the Kingdom of Bohemia (today’s National Museum), was interested in buying the skeleton of a fin whale caught off the coast of Norway.

The institution didn’t have the financial wherewithal for such a purchase, so Frič and his brother raised the funds via a public collection.

Skeleton of a fin whale in the National Museum in Prague | Photo: National Museum in Prague

The large exhibit was first shown at Prague’s U Halánků building (today’s Náprstek Museum), before being moved to the historic building of the National Museum at the top of Wenceslas Square in 1892.

The skeleton remains one of the institution's most significant pieces. And modern day visitors can use a special app that allows them to view it through their mobile phones – with lifelike flesh and skin.