Grand Opening “Old Dartmouth Historical Society Wattles Family Gallery”

Treasures of Old Dartmouth

Ribbon Cutting and Public Reception
Saturday, June 26, 3:00 PM
North Water & Centre Streets

Since its founding in 1903 the Old Dartmouth Historical Society (ODHS) has collected a broad spectrum of materials to document and preserve the history of the region.  Much activity at ODHS has focused on whaling, the primary commercial activity of the region. Yet for over 100 years the New Bedford Whaling Museum/ODHS has continued to actively collect decorative and fine arts associated with New Bedford and the surrounding towns of Fairhaven, Acushnet, Dartmouth, and Westport.

This new Old Dartmouth Historical Society Wattles Family Gallery provides the perfect venue to highlight the fine art treasures from the most prosperous period of the region.  Artwork with a variety of Old Dartmouth connections are displayed.  For example, nationally known masters such as William Bradford (1823-1892) and Albert Pinkham Ryder (1847-1917) were born in Fairhaven and New Bedford respectively.  Albert Bierstadt (1830 – 1902) moved to New Bedford as a young boy.

Old Dartmouth artists and subjects are represented in this sampling of many of the greatest works from our collection.


Bank of Commerce, North Water Street, 1895

The first permanent home of the ODHS was the National Bank of Commerce building.  Constructed in 1883-4 it was purchased in 1906 by the founders of the Society. Typical of an early American museum, a wide variety of collections were displayed from stuffed penguins brought back by whalers to ship models, paintings, and scrimshaw.

Over many years this room evolved into collection storage and staff spaces, unseen by the public.  By peeling back years of alterations we have returned this gallery to the public and featured our Old Dartmouth collections.  Special thanks go to Museum Trustee Gurdon Wattles for recommending grant funding for this project through the New York Community Trust – Wattles Family Charitable Trust Fund.

"Coast of Grand Manan", 1890, Charles Henry Gifford

To re-inaugurate this gallery it is most fitting that our finest artworks are exhibited.  Peruse the diversity and take in the richness of the cultural Treasures of Old Dartmouth.

Gregory J. Galer, Ph.D.
Exhibit Curator, VP Collections & Exhibitions

Keith W. Kauppila
Guest Assistant Exhibit Curator

Frances F. Levin
Chairman, Collections Committee

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