Museum of London launches livestream of its Fatberg exhibit

Geraldine Kendall Adams, 20.08.2018
Toxic piece of sewage acquired for museum’s permanent collection

Following the popularity of its recent display Fatberg!, the Museum of London has acquired a sample of the toxic mass of sewage for its permanent collection, and has launched a “fatcam” livestream to enable viewers to see the organic matter change in real time.

The fatberg – a huge blockage made up of waste, grease and other non-biodegradable matter such as wet wipes – was extracted from a sewer in Whitechapel in 2017. Now held in quarantine at the museum’s store, viewers can watch on a live webcam as it sweats and changes colour.

During its time on display, the fatberg hatched flies and started to grow aspergillus, an unusual toxic mould that takes the form of yellow pustules.

The museum’s curator of social and working history, Vyki Sparkes, said: “The samples of the Whitechapel fatberg have proven to be very powerful museum objects, provoking strong feelings of fascination and disgust in our visitors whilst encouraging them to reflect on a serious challenge facing the city.

“Fatbergs are created by people and businesses who discard fat and rubbish into our historic sewer system. By adding these samples to our permanent collections we are preserving material evidence of how we live now, and, as we change our habits and attitudes, fatbergs could well become history. The fatberg livestream means these samples can entertain and educate people around the world.”

Sharon Robinson Calver, the museum’s head of conservation and collection care, said: “[The] fatberg is unlike any material we have ever dealt with before and it very much remains a live experiment.”