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Natural History Museum by Sarah Maycock

Written by Tom at Handsome Frank , Featured Project

Whales Exhibition

whale illustration

Back in the winter of 2016 we were contacted by brand consultancy Wiedemann Lampe who wanted to discuss a top-secret project with one of our favourite illustrators, Sarah Maycock. A meeting was set up in all the ancient decadence of The Natural History Museum. On arrival, we were ushered through a side door led to a table in the depths of the museum around which we gathered with Benji Wiedemann himself. He showed us some complex looking floor plans of the museum, which turned out to be the blueprints for what would later become the hugely popular ‘Whales: Beneath the Surface’ exhibition.

In the subsequent months, Sarah got her head down to the project in hand: illustrating a long list of whales, ranging from the Blue Whale to ancient (and more recent) species that are now extinct. Each painting had to go through a complex sign-off process involving specialist scientists at the Natural

History Museum, making sure they were anatomically correct. They also had to pass beneath the eyes of various members of the design teams to make sure they would have a big enough impact on visitors when placed in the museum.


After what felt like a long wait, the exhibition opened its doors in July 2017 and the true beauty of what Sarah had created was on show for the world to see. The show, in no small part to Sarah’s paintings, was a huge success. They played a very important part of the exhibition as it allowed a deeper level of engagement for the thousands of people who visited and meandered through the exhibition space over the coming months.

We loved this project as it is a great example of one of those very satisfying situations where you couldn’t have found a better artist for the job in hand. Hats off to you, Sarah!

Natural History Museum whale exhibition

Sarah’s Folio

Sarah Maycock illustration
Sarah Maycock illustration
Sarah Maycock illustration
Sarah Maycock map illustration