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Whale spotting’ in St Bavo's Cathedral

7 Oct 2017Whale spotting

From 7 October onwards, the magnificent stained windows at St Bavo’s Cathedral are not the only reason to look above your head. For six months, you can admire the skeleton of a finback whale suspended from the cathedral ceiling. ‘Whale spotting’ is part of the exhibition ‘Out of the Box’ that marks the 200th anniversary of Ghent University.

In 2015, a young finback whale came into the port of Ghent on the bow of a ship from Brazil. The young animal, measuring almost 12 metres long, had died at sea and was brought to land by the fire brigade. The animal’s skeleton was sent to Ghent University, where it was nicknamed ‘Leo’.

Now Leo can be admired in St Bavo’s Cathedral. The location was not chosen at random. The whale occurs in a story in the Old Testament, and in the Middle Ages, a whale washing up onto the shore was seen as a bad omen. So Leo is linked to belief and religion.

Out of the box

‘Whale spotting’ is part of the exhibition ‘Out of the Box’. Ghent University is celebrating its 200th anniversary and displaying the Ghent University Museum’s collection at various locations around the city. From 7/10/2017 until 28/03/2018, scientific objects invite dialogue with their new surroundings in St Bavo’s Cathedral, St Peter's Abbey, Dr. Guislain Museum and Design museum Gent.

The co-curator of ‘Whale spotting’ is the poet Peter Verhelst. The exhibit can be visited free of charge during the opening hours of St Bavo’s Cathedral.

Whale spotting