WATCH ABOVE: Raw video of the “Open Sea” whale sculpture in its new location.
EDMONTON — The popular bronze whale sculpture has returned to West Edmonton Mall, after a five-year hiatus. The mall announced the news on its Facebook page on Wednesday, saying, “It may be April Fool’s Day, but this is no joke! Look who is returning!”
The whale will soon have a new home on the main level of Phase I, just outside the entrance to Sears, where a Reitman’s clothing store and a Baskin Robbins ice cream stand as its neighbours.
The art piece, made up of a head at one side of a pool and a tail at the other end, was a part of Phase II since its opening in 1983 until the summer of 2010. It was a popular attraction, with visitors able to enter the gaping mouth into a small cave, and risk sitting on the jutting tail — although that did pose the risk of sliding into the water.
The art installation was removed five years ago when Victoria’s Secret came to the mall. The water feature was filled in and soft seats installed. At the time mall Spokeswoman Sheri Clegg said the whale would be reintroduced in a different spot, and this week it was brought out from storage.
On Wednesday curious gawkers checked out the roped-off sculpture, which was sitting in the area where it will eventually be installed. The base is still stained from decades of sitting in a pool, but the mall didn’t say if the whale will return to the water.
Sheri Clegg said construction is underway, but details on what the area will look like once the whale is re-installed are not available yet.
“While I don’t have renderings or complete details, I’ve been told we’re creating an interactive experience with the whale and there will be seating around the area.”
News of the whale’s return spread quickly on social media, as people shared the mall’s Facebook post and tweeted about the news using the hashtag #wemwhale.
The whale sculpture is called “Open Sea” and was commissioned by Canadian artist Robin Bell, who also made “Running In,” the sculpture of three oil workers in Phase II.