There is something immensely satisfying about watching a year's worth of grime and dust be scrubbed away from a thing. Anything. But especially a thing in New York City, where there is more dirt than you ever dreamed you'd see upon boarding that bus from Anytown, U.S.A. to the Big Dirty Apple. And it's really quite something to see the films of dirt be vacuumed from the iconic blue whale that hangs in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life at the American Museum of Natural History.
It's all happening right now—the 94 feet long whale structure, weighing in at 21,000 pounds, is being vacuumed, and the Museum is livestreaming it:
The whale is given an annual cleaning, and when we went to see it happen in person in 2014 (when these above photos were taken), a rep for the AMNH told us that a vacuum cleaner is the main cleaning tool used, which sucks off "the residue that is found on the whale... [it] is simply common dust, similar to what you might find around your home." Dean Markosian, Director of Project Management in the Exhibition Department, told us, "It's a big job because she has a lot of surface area—it's the largest animal that we currently know has ever lived."