PORTLAND — Fishing-net-like curtains define a 17-foot by 21-foot cubical exhibit space where viewers, serenaded by recorded whale songs, wonderingly touch dozens of individual whale bones suspended in a dense matrix.

There’s a sense of being part of an otherworldly experience — not inside a whale, exactly, but inside something timeless and venerable. The bones, selected from the partial skeletons of a fin, minke and pilot whale, speak of great beings.

This is an interactive exhibit, up through April 7, at the Institute for Contemporary Art at Maine College of Art (MCA) on Congress Street in Portland.

A collaboration between whale expert Dan DenDanto of Seal Cove; his brother Frank, a design and lighting specialist; and Allied Whale, College of the Atlantic and MCA, the free exhibit “is designed to be a novel contemporary sculpture stimulating multiple senses to achieve an unprecedented, thought-provoking experience of cetacean anatomy in a conservation context,” DenDanto said.

DenDanto is a research associate at Allied Whale and an expert in the distinctive skill of re-articulating whale skeletons. Since 1993, he has cleaned and re-articulated numerous skeletons for professional commissions across the country.

In the weeks leading up to the exhibit, DenDanto — aided by Allied Whale senior staffer Rosemary Seton and College of the Atlantic students Jesse Gutierrez, Ellen Lida, Michael D’Attilo, Avery Lam and Tsz Yau — was in his workshop, processing and stringing up bones like oversize beads.

“We’re taking sort of an abstract approach to something that is meaningful, as if you see what the whale experiences,” DenDanto said as the students and Seton worked in pairs to drill a hole through each bone and cut lengths of monofilament line.

“It’s intended the bones can be touched and inspected, and in doing so, they’ll move,” he said.

The three whale carcasses were collected over the past 10 years and kept by COA. The skeletons were unfit as scientific or museum specimens, due to lost or damaged bones.