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Knox College students restoring 55-foot whale skeleton for display in science building

GALESBURG, Illinois -- Students at Knox College are restoring a 55-foot whale skeleton that will go on display in the atrium of it's science building.

It will be the centerpiece of the Umbeck Science-Mathematics Center, which is currently undergoing the first installment of a 40 million dollar renovation project.

"It's bold; you'll be able to see it clear across campus," said Nick Gidmark, assistant professor of biology at Knox College, who's spearheading the project. "And symbolic of the fact that we do really incredible things at Knox."

The whale was struck by a boat and washed ashore on the East Coast in 2012 during Hurricane Sandy. The skeleton was displayed at a facility in New Hampshire for several years, outside and exposed to the elements, before Gidmark picked it up in a U-HAUL and brought it back to Galesburg last August.

Some of the bones were badly damaged or lost over the years.

"It was really one giant jigsaw puzzle," said Gidmark. His class is using 3D scanning and printing technology to fill in the gaps.

"We're kind of identifying all the bones and identifying everything that's missing," said senior in biology Kiana Arango. "And my job in particular right now is I'm in charge of scanning this guy right here," she said, gesturing at the whale's massive cranium.

In the next stages of the project, the art department at Knox College will do a resign coating over the skeleton, while the theater department will stage the final lighting design. The college hopes to complete the project by Homecoming 2019.

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