New Bedford Whaling Museum

The New Bedford Whaling Museum ignites learning through explorations of art, history, science and culture rooted in the stories of people, the region and an international seaport. Founded in 1903, the Museum’s rich history reveals an intimate relationship with the communities it serves. Motivated by civic pride and a desire to preserve the artifacts and narratives of the region, the museum was founded by the children of the progenitors of the American whaling industry. The Old Dartmouth Historical Society was established “to create and foster an interest in the history of Old Dartmouth (now the City of New Bedford, Acushnet, Dartmouth, Fairhaven and Westport, MA). This area incorporates more than 185 square miles with a population exceeding 180,000. Today, members hail from many more communities. The steady growth of its collection, programming, membership and physical plant illustrate the museum’s relevancy to these communities. A touchstone to the region’s past, the museum has evolved as a crossroads through which diverse communities intersect, conveying their rich cultures. The Museum can claim many superlatives amongst its holdings including the world’s largest: library of whaling logbooks, prints, journals; collection of scrimshaw; Japanese whaling art and literature outside of Japan; Dutch Old Master marine paintings in the New World. The Museum’s complete coverage of 19th and 20th century whaling technology makes it a global center for scholarly research. The Museum is home to the world’s largest ship model, Lagoda, a half-scale whale ship built in 1916 by the aging shipwrights of New Bedford’s famed fleet. The Museum displays four species of complete whale skeletons, including a Blue whale, the world’s largest mammal plus a mother and fetus of the highly endangered Northern Atlantic Right whale.


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