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UK museum considers preserving fatberg after visitor boost

July 10, 2018

The Museum of London is considering preserving a piece of the enormous fatberg found in the sewers of Whitechapel district in 2017, which has proven to be an unexpectedly popular attraction.

Photo: Lord Belbury, Wikimedia Commons, UK museum considers preserving fatberg after visitor boost

Photo: Lord Belbury, Wikimedia Commons

The rotting chunk of fat, oil and wet wipes that was “sweating”, crawling with maggots and had begun to change colour had caused a “marked increase” in visitors to the museum, reported BBC on 27 June.

Museum of London curator Vyki Sparkes said the preservation of the piece was now being considered after its exhibition was wrapped up at the end of June.

The piece of fat came from the Whitechapel fatberg, which became something of a celebrity in the UK after its discovery.

The congealed mass of fats and other sewer materials that was 250m long and weighed roughly the same as an adult blue whale at 130 tonnes took workers nine weeks to break up with drills, BBC wrote.

Exhibited as an example of the challenges of waste disposal in the UK capital, Sparkes said the audiences had viewed the lump with a mixture of “fascination and revulsion”, partly due to its ever-changing appearance under its glass cage.

“We’ve never worked on anything like it. It’s under our feet, it grows. We’re all responsible for creating it,” she described the piece of fatberg.

While the rest of the Whitechapel fatberg had already been taken for processing into biodiesel, the Museum of London was interested in archiving the piece, which was at first destined to go into quarantine, where it would be treated according to health and safety regulations concerning waste.

In July, the museum’s collections committee would make the final decision on whether to keep the fatberg chunk either in storage or on display, but Sparkes believed there was a “strong case for keeping it”.

She said it had engaged visitors to rethink consumer behaviour and the consumption of products responsible for the fatberg’s creation, and had even inspired children’s stories and an upcoming fatberg musical.

All fairly impressive achievements for a fly-infested pile of fat.


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