Museums acquire additional layers of significance as historical and cultural settings change. In a time of climate crisis and rapid extinction of species, they can be important actors in raising public awareness of human relationships with nature, as institutions that interpret, collect, and conserve. In this paper, such a role is applied to the Commander Chr. Christensen’s Whaling Museum in Sandefjord, Norway. This is a museum that represents overexploitation of natural resources, but also local history, wealth, industry and conservation. At its centre is the human relationship with the whale. In my examination of two whale displays at the Whaling Museum, I found that the whale reveals cultural meanings at multiple levels. First, I examined the blue whale model hanging from the ceiling in the museum’s main hall. The model is the Whaling Museum’s centre piece and was originally made for the opening in 1917. I argue that the model represents the very idea of “whale” at the museum and is thus interpreted within a set of cultural conceptions of the whale. Based upon how the museum curated the replica, as well as beholders’ own prepossessed feelings for the animal, the model is transformed into a cultural product. I have used direct observation at the museum and interpreted the whale as a mythical object, a gendered object and a symbol for conservation. Secondly, the fin whale skeleton in the museum’s basement was examined. The skeleton is a representation of a once live animal that was caught outside of Sandefjord as a result of Norwegian state-funded whaling in 1918. It has been transformed from a conscious being into a means for humans in the food and fat shortage during the First World War. Further on, it has been transformed to a museum object, displayed as a skeleton in the basement of the Whaling Museum. Writing the fin whale’s biography, I follow a history of an animal’s trajectory after death. The whale is a polyvalent symbol that evokes emotion for many. In this paper, aspects of human relationships with whales is assessed in the context of a specialist museum in Sandefjord.