Whales: Giants of the Deep

Dive in and explore the awe-inspiring world of whales. Now open!



Interactive, immersive, and featuring the latest in international cetacean research, Whales: Giants of the Deep is an experience that brings adults and children eye to eye with some of the world’s most elusive creatures. The exhibition’s unique blend of science, storytelling, and innovative interactivity gives visitors the opportunity to discover more about the world of whales.

Featuring two fully-articulated sperm whale skeletons, including an impressive 58-foot male, Whales showcases amazing and rare specimens from New Zealand’s Te Papa Museum’s whale collection, one of the largest in the world. Visitors will see life-size and scale models of whales common to the South Pacific as well as contemporary whalebone treasures such as weapons and chiefly adornments. They’ll also learn about whale biology, the extraordinary evolutionary journey of whales from land to sea, and the history of whaling in New Zealand.

Whales: Giants of the Deep tickets

Admission to Whales: Giants of the Deep includes general admission to the Museum.

Members Kent County Residents  Non-members
Adults – $2 Adults – $10 Adults – $13
Seniors – $2 Seniors – $8 Seniors – $12
Students – $2 Students – $8 Students – $8
Children – $2 Children – $5 Children – $8
Children 2 and under are FREE Seniors ages 62 & older | Children ages 3-17  Students must show valid school ID

Objects in this exhibit are sacred to the Maori culture. Please be respectful and observe the following:

  • Have fun, but no food and beverages
  • Make memories, but sorry no photography
  • Enjoy, and please no foul language


Whales: Giants of the Deep Title Sponsors:

The Steve & Amy Van Andel Foundation                 Logo Color JPEG (1)

Exhibition Highlights

  • Image 23Learn about the intricacies of whale biology, the history of whaling in New Zealand, and efforts being made by scientists and others to protect whales from threats of entanglement, shipping and sonar use, and the continuation of whaling practices in some parts of the world.
  • View casts of fossil whale ancestors, which show the evolutionary journey of whales from land to sea, as well as contemporary whalebone treasures such as weapons and chiefly adornments.
  • Tune in to a range of whale sounds and discover how scientists and amateur trackers identify individual whales on their migration through the Pacific Ocean.

Te Papa logo_latest_GREENWhales: Giants of the Deep was developed and is presented by the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. This exhibition was made possible through the support of the New Zealand Government and the Smithsonian Institution.


Curriculum Connection!

The Whales: Giants of the Deep exhibition takes an in-depth look at these marine mammals and the role they have played for thousands of years in human cultures. These comprehensive guides will help you explore the exhibition with your students, complete with pre and post visit activities.

NEW – Discounted admission for Kent County School Districts!


K-2 Education Guide

3-5 Education Guide

6-8 Education Guide

9-12 Education Guide

Add one of these Specialized Educational Programs to your Visit!

Reserve your visit today and add on one of these unique guided programs for your students, developed by the GRPM

Do Whales have Scales? (Pre-K/Elementary)

  • Examine the survival needs of mammals and fish within their habitats
  • Identify major body parts of mammals and fish
  • Be introduced to new zoology vocabulary
  • Use critical thinking to determine differences in kinds of mammals and kinds of fish

Cultural Waters (Elementary/Middle)

  • Expand understanding of culture and how culture is represented through several aspects of a community
  • Identify similarities and differences between the native cultures of the Anishinabek people of Michigan and the Mauri tribe of New Zealand
  • Identify positive and negative consequences of human activities in relation to whales, sturgeon, and their environments
  • Recognize how specific animals are viewed differently from various cultural perspectives such as from a native or contemporary perspective

From Shore to Sea, The Evolution and Ecology of Whales (High School)

  • Expand understanding of whale ecology and behavior using the GRPM’s Fin whale exhibit
  • Examine the fossil record and scientific evidence for intermediate forms using fossils displayed at the Museum
  • Evaluate the structure of historic and current organisms using comparative anatomy of whale skeletons and other species

Book your classroom’s visit to the exhibition today! Call 616.929.1734 or click above to reserve online.

Support for Whales: Giants of the Deep is provided by:


Wood_tv_8_0                Star logo


David and Carol Van Andel Family Foundation
Williams Kitchen & Bath 


Media Place Partners 


Adventure Credit Union 
AppleTree & Gilden Woods Early Care and Preschool
James and Catherine Haveman Family Foundation
Kennari Consulting 

Additional support from:

616 Balloons
Aunt Millie’s
Country Fresh, LLC
Festida Foods
Kaat’s Culligan of Grand Rapids
Michigan Apple Committee  
Noodles & Co.
Onion Crock
The Salted Cupcake
Sietsema Farms 




Sperm whale, courtesy of Brandon Cole. Diver, courtesy of Romeo/V&W, courtesy of SeaPics.com

Orca whale fluke © Dr Ingrid Visser, Orca Research Trust

Juvenile humpback whale underwater © Dr Ingrid Visser, Orca Research Trust