Brian Skerry, NatGeo Photographer, at NBWM on December 1

We have been working with colleagues at Whale and Dolphin Conservation and Audubon Society of Rhode Island to raise awareness about the survival issues facing the North Atlantic right whale.  Over the past year, the most timely issue has been the ‘Ship Strike Rule’ that was enacted in 2008 and given an end date of December 9, 2013. It would be up to supporters of this rule to petition the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to eliminate, or at minimum, push the sunset date back as more data was gathered regarding the effectiveness of this seasonal slow-down for ships longer than 65 feet.

We held a press event on December 9, 2012 to announce the Act Right Now campaign to continue the Ship Strike Rule in perpetuity. In that time, a campaign video was released, right whale curriculum was finalized and distributed to teachers in several states, a fun run was held in Plymouth, hundreds of letters were sent to NOAA stating support for the rule, and over 75,000 people signed the petition that was sent to NOAA headquarters.

As a means of highlighting the progress made in the past year and to bring further attention to this highly endangered species, the Whaling Museum will host a celebratory event on Sunday, December 1, beginning at noon. Headlining this event is renowned National Geographic photographer, Brian Skerry. Brian was born and raised in Massachusetts and his work is known around the world. He is the recent winner of the Underwater Category of the 2013 Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition! One of his photographs, of a Southern right whale, is featured prominently in our From Pursuit to Preservation exhibit. We are very happy to host him and this great event in three weeks.


Post_Card Brian_Skerry Dec1 Event

The schedule for the event is on the post card above. Please note that the tickets are being sold via our colleagues at Whale and Dolphin Conservation. But, if you do have questions, you can call NBWM Science Director, Robert Rocha, (508) 717-6849.

The New Bedford Whaling Museum at the Boston Antiquarian Book Fair

The annual fall gathering for booklovers, the Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair, will return to the Hynes Convention Center in Boston’s beautiful Back Bay, November 15-17, 2013. The offerings are wide and diverse from over 120 dealers from the United States, England, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Australia, and The Netherlands who will exhibit and sell rare, collectible and antiquarian books, illuminated manuscripts, autographs, maps, atlases, modern first editions, photographs, and fine and decorative prints.

This year, the Museum will be contributing to the Fair in more ways than one. Stuart Frank, Senior Curator Emeritus, will be delivering a talk titled “Intro to Scrimshaw & Collecting Scrimshaw Books” on Saturday, November 16, 2013 at 2:00pm. Additionally, the Museum has been invited to set up a booth as part of the Fair’s Cultural Row Exhibit. As part of Cultural Row, the Museum will be selling several of its publications, including Ingenious Contrivances and Arctic Regions.

Friday, November 15 5:00-9:00pm Tickets: $15.00 – Opening Night
(tickets valid throughout the weekend)
Saturday, November 16 12:00-7:00pm Tickets: $8.00
Sunday, November 17 12:00-5:00pm Tickets: $8.00; free with a valid student I.D.

Hynes Convention Center
900 Boylston Street
Boston, MA

18th Moby-Dick Marathon

Attention all potential readers! The day to call or email to let us know that you would like to read on either Saturday, January 4 or Sunday, January 5 is coming up. As Monday, November 11 becomes Tuesday, November 12, just after midnight, you may call (508) 717-6851 or email and submit your name. Let us know your preferred reading time, a backup reading time, and perhaps your affiliation. Otherwise, we’ll list you as ‘Melville Aficionado’. If you call, please be sure to spell out your name for us. We will be able to start responding in mid-December to let you know your reading time. Those of you who have been put on the waiting list in the past year or two will get preference.

Event info will follow in subsequent posts. You can also go to the page on our website.

Enjoy the weekend.

A Halloween Poem

This poem was one of the stories that our High School Apprentices prepared for The Haunted Whaleship, the very successful, first-time event that was held here on Saturday, October 26. Over 500 people came in to see the eerily lit galleries and Lagoda ship model, to meet ghosts of New Bedford’s past, hear our apprentice’s stories, take part in costume contests and participate in crafts.  It was a fun night for all of us.

The leaves crunched beneath the feet of the children in Salem on Halloween night.

All the children in town dash down the streets

in search of sugary treats and to make a fright.

Ghosts, goblins, witches, and fairies.

Halloween time sure is scary.

When you’re parading your costume out on the street

You’ll never be sure of the friends you will meet.

Your moms, dads and teachers all tell you to be safe

and check before you give your treats a taste.

Carry flashlights, bring sweaters

just in case there’s chilly weather.

The Museum wishes you a happy, happy Halloween

and don’t forget to brush your baleen!.

By Tatiana Grace, Gr. 11, Greater NB Regional VTHS

Halloween photo, undated, from Whaling Museum collection.

Halloween photo, undated, from Whaling Museum collection.

Great Whale Tail Photos

As the sun sets on another week, we’d like to share some nicely timed humpback whale photos off the coast of Monterey Bay, California.  This article about Katie Dunbar’s photos shows four very colorful pictures.  The first photo is the most impressive.

Enjoy the weekend.

Fixing a Problem with “Finding Nemo”

Every school group that comes in for a science program has heard, and will continue to hear, me correct one of the flaws in the animated film Finding Nemo.  To summarize, two of the fish characters, Dory and Marlin, escaped from the mouth of a blue whale by going down the whale’s throat and out through the blowholes. This is a physical impossibility. I actually yelled at the TV screen when I saw this.  I knew that I would have to talk about this scene with each and every student who came in for a program.

This scientific inaccuracy, along with a few others in the film, has struck a chord with a writer who is a half a world away, in India.  This article in Gizmodo gives the same explanation that our young visitors hear. Facts are facts, you can only spin them so many ways. It’s a fun read and corrects the original problem, and the anticipated follow up question (‘What comes out of the blowholes if it isn’t water?). The bulleted facts at the bottom of the article are interesting and educational.

The Haunted Whale Ship, Oct. 26

David Brownell and Lucy Bly appear as Capt. Ahab and Hetty Green at "The Haunted Whale Ship," Saturday, Oct. 26.

David Brownell and Lucy Bly appear as Capt. Ahab and Hetty Green at “The Haunted Whale Ship,” Saturday, Oct. 26.

Set sail on The Haunted Whale Ship, the New Bedford Whaling Museum’s family-friendly Halloween event, geared for children 12 and under and their parents on Saturday, October 26, 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. See the century-old museum in a new (dim) light and meet ghosts from New Bedford’s seafaring past. The not-too scary fun includes a costume contest, haunted scavenger hunt, arts & crafts activities, spooky stories & tours, refreshments, and more.

In partnership with members of the New Bedford Preservation Society, a few notable spirits of Old Dartmouth and New Bedford will roam museum galleries and greet visitors with tales of long-ago. Reenactors will also include museum docents, staff and high school apprentices with special apparitions of Hetty Green – “The Witch of Wall Street” – played by Lucy Bly, and of Deborah Doubleday – innkeeper during the 1778 burning of Bedford Village – played Judy Roderiques. David Brownell rises as Captain Ahab.

Tickets are required in advance: $3 for children 12 and under; $5 for all others. Call (508) 997-0046, ext. 100 or email: Children must be accompanied by an adult.

Whaling History Symposium, Oct. 19-20

"Bark Stafford, Outward Bound" painted by Clifford W. Ashley in 1926 recalls the heyday of the New Bedford Port District, the focus of the 37th Whaling History Symposium, October 19-20 at the New Bedford Whaling Museum. (New Bedford Whaling Museum collection)

“Bark Stafford, Outward Bound” painted by Clifford W. Ashley in 1926 recalls the heyday of the New Bedford Port District, the focus of the 37th Whaling History Symposium, October 19-20 at the New Bedford Whaling Museum. (New Bedford Whaling Museum collection)

The New Bedford Whaling Museum is pleased to announce the program for its 37th Whaling History Symposium, to be held at the Museum on Saturday, October 19 and Sunday, October 20, 2013.

This year’s theme is the interdependence and integration of various communities and commercial interests in the New Bedford Port District and their relation to the whaling industry that was the main economic focus of the region. Michael P. Dyer, Senior Maritime Historian, will open the session with an overview history of the District and its “Outports,” the galaxy of seacoast towns lying between Cape Cod and Rhode Island that shared with New Bedford and Fairhaven the risks and prosperity of the whaling industry, and suffered together in its decline. Next up, Erik A.R. Ronnberg, Jr., one of America’s most celebrated ship modelers and a former curator at the Whaling Museum, will present “Whaleship Models: Research and Reconstruction,” describing the unique features of whaleship models and the challenges of building them, and will provide a systematic examination of their value as historical documents, sublime aesthetic byproducts of local seafaring, and relics that pay homage to a unique maritime heritage. Mr. Ronnberg will be followed by Judith N. Lund, also a former curator of the Museum, to introduce the current exhibition “The Art of the Ship Model,” which she co-curated with J. Michael Wall.

Following a break for lunch, New Bedford historian and publicist Arthur P. Motta will speak about “Lighthouses of New Bedford” and their integration into the fabric of The Life and Times of the Whaling Capital, one of the nation’s greatest seaports. Arthur has long been involved in the preservation of New Bedford’s three extant lighthouses. This will be expanded upon by Dr. Stuart M. Frank, Senior Curator Emeritus, with “Beacons and Blubber: The Amos Baker Family and four generations of whaling, lighthouses, journals, watercolors, scrimshaw, and artifact collecting,” a pictorial extravaganza that delves deep into museum collections to explore the unusual history of this exemplary family of lighthouse keepers and whaling captains.  Capping the all-day plenary sessions will be Dr. Alfred H. Saulniers, economist and noted local historian, addressing “Franco Americans in the New Bedford Whale Fishery, 1790-1910,” a little-known but crucial component community of participants in the city’s great Age of Sail.  To close out the day, Dr. Frank will introduce another current exhibition, “Harbor Views,” which focuses on visions of the estuary, waterfronts, and waterborne traffic by some of the most proficient and expressive local artists, from William Bradford and Albert Van Beest to L.D. Eldred and Clifford Ashley.

 Scheduled for Sunday at 10:30 a.m. is an optional field excursion: a harbor tour and special close-up narrated cruise around the port’s three historic lighthouses. Tour seating is limited.

 The Whaling History Symposium, first established in 1975, brings scholars, collectors, armchair historians, and interested nautical enthusiasts to New Bedford from all over the country and abroad, to share interests in maritime history, nautical lore, and the many intriguing facets of whaling heritage worldwide. This year’s Symposium focuses on the home port, whose name was “known in every seaport on the globe.”

 Registration: $50 for members and $65 for non-members (includes lunch and admission to all museum galleries) by October 17. Optional Lighthouse Harbor Tour, $25 additional. To register, call the Admissions Desk: (508) 997-0046, ext. 100 or email:

 The Whaling History Symposium is sponsored in part by the Samuel D. Rusitzky Fund.


 All Saturday Symposium events, including registration, plenary sessions, coffee break, and lunch, take place in the Jacobs Family Gallery and Cook Memorial Theater. The Sunday component is a boat trip on the Acushnet River, reserved in advance. Museum galleries are open daily to all registrants. A Symposium discount room rate is available at the New Bedford Fairfield Inn and Suites.



9:00 a.m. – Registration & coffee

 10:00 a.m. – Welcome & Opening Remarks

 10:15 a.m. – “The entire business of the place is the whale fishery”: Specialization and Management in the New Bedford Port District, 1789-1884. – presented by Michael P. Dyer, Senior Maritime Historian, New Bedford Whaling Museum.

 11:15 a.m. – “Whaleship Models: Research and Reconstruction” – presented by Erik A. R. Ronnberg, Jr., ship model artist and historian; former Associate Curator of Maritime History at the New Bedford Whaling Museum.

 12:15 p.m. – Introducing “The Art of the Ship Model” Exhibition – presented by Judith Navas Lund, Curator Emerita, New Bedford Whaling Museum.

 12:30 a.m. – Luncheon, Jacobs Family Gallery.

 2:00 p.m. – Lighthouses of New Bedford. – presented by Arthur P. Motta, Director, Marketing & Communications, New Bedford Whaling Museum.

 3:00 p.m. – “Beacons and Blubber: The Baker Family and four generations of whaling, light­houses, journals, watercolors, scrimshaw, and artifact collecting, 1825-1940” –  presented by Stuart M. Frank, Ph.D., Senior Curator Emeritus, New Bedford Whaling Museum.

 4:00 p.m – “Franco Americans in the New Bedford Whale Fishery, 1790-1910” – presented by Alfred H. Saulniers, Ph.D., Economist and Historian, New Bedford.

5:00 p.m. – Introducing the “Harbor Views” Exhibition. – presented by Stuart M. Frank.


Optional Field Trip – narrated by Arthur P. Motta: a tour of New Bedford harbor (weather/seas permitting), with a sail past Palmer Island Light (1849), Butler Flats Light Station (1898), and Clark’s Point Light (1869). Morning departure at 10:30 a.m. aboard the harbor tour boat, Acushnet, from Fisherman’s Wharf, returning in time for lunch on your own on shore. Seating is limited.

Building a Transformative Experience

Trustees select Mount Vernon Group Architects to design the new Educational Center and Research Library

The Board of Trustees enthusiastically selected Mount Vernon Group Architects to design the new Educational Center and Research Library on Johnny Cake Hill. Groundbreaking is slated for spring 2014. Preliminary sketches reveal the character of the Johnny Cake Hill, Water Street and Union Street facades. The building will connect to the existing Museum campus and be constructed in a site left vacant since the devastating gas explosion of 1977. The building will house new classrooms, a digital Reading Room, climate controlled spaces for collections, a laboratory for the flagship Apprenticeship Program and the Casa dos Botes. The 4th floor will encompass a multi-use assembly area with majestic views of the New Bedford Harbor. The $6 million construction project has 80% of funds committed.

View from Johnny Cake Hill

View from Water St

View from Union St.

Established in 1954, Mount Vernon Group is an award-winning designer of educational buildings. MVG’s local ties and proven record of designing customized educational spaces, as well as its understanding of the Museum’s educational goals, make it the ideal choice to design the space that will transform the Museum and prepare it for the next 100 years.

For more information on the Campaign to Build the Educational Center and Research Library, please contact Alison Smart, Senior Director of Development, at (508) 717-6815. View from Johnny Cake Hill View from Water Street View from Union Street

From the Vault: Journal Kept Onboard the Newport’s 1892 Voyage

Every piece in the Library has its own unique story to tell, and we invite you to look at a few of the thousands of materials and hear their tales through the Museum’s “From the Vault”, a new digital exhibit featuring different treasures from the Library.

In 1978, Mr. and Mrs. George Bodfish donated to the Research Library a collection of manuscripts and photographs relating to Hartson Hartlett Bodfish (1862 – 1945), a captain of thirteen Western Arctic whaling voyages during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This donation also came with several logbooks and journals penned by Bodfish himself that document his whaling exploits. One of these journals contains a partial account of the Newport’s 1892 – 1898 whaling voyage. The journal begins on August 21, 1893 and represents an important chapter of American whaling history.

The rest of the story.