Category Archives: Education

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.

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.

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: frontdesk@whalingmuseum.org. Children must be accompanied by an adult.

The Challenge of Choosing Apprentices

Our high school apprenticeship program connects us to New Bedford juniors and seniors with college aspirations who want to learn more about themselves and their city. Many of these students will be the first ones in their families to go to college.  They are eager to work in an environment in which they are treated like young professionals, are given the opportunity to interact with a variety of educators and experts, and, of course, get paid.

Several weeks ago we began to advertise for new applicants. Notice of the program openings went to all three high schools in the City, to the Standard-Times, to WFHN and WBSM, to NB Public Access Cable and on our blog. Current and past apprentices also spread the word.  The response was very strong. Fifty seven applications were received by our deadline of September 25.  Of these 57, we will only be able to hire four new apprentices.  These new students will bring us to our full complement of twelve apprentices, seven of whom started in July.

This week, during the after school hours, we have been conducting interviews and will do so all week. After reading their answers to the questions on the application, checking their eligibility in relation to receiving free or reduced lunch and reviewing their transcripts, we opted to call 19 students to interview. We have been impressed with the students we have met, and have no doubt that we will be impressed with the students who will come in today and tomorrow after school.

It is no small task to choose four new apprentices from such a large pool of applicants.  These students have to be team players and continue the momentum we have built in the first 3 1/2 years of the program. They need to have the aptitude to grasp all that we ask them to learn. They must be willing to commit to the hours of the job. They need to convey a sense of initiative for their futures, and that they see our program as more than just a job.  We have met many students who can do all of the above. We are about to meet more in the next 30 hours. Yet, there will be four whose interviews, references, transcripts and ability to connect to our interviewers will help them rise above their peers.

This process reinforces the notion that there are countless students in New Bedford, and in the region, who don’t get noticed, or notoriety, simply because they are doing their homework, volunteering after school and on weekends and are staying out of trouble. These are the good kids, the students who deserve our appreciation for doing the ‘right thing’. We feel lucky to get the chance to meet some of them this week. We wish all of them well. We feel even luckier that four more of them will start work with us next week.

Pilot apprentices Spring / Summer 2010

Pilot apprentices Spring / Summer 2010

 

 

‘Following Fish’ exhibit opens Sept. 27

Marie Louise Gomes makes scallop bags at Diamond Marine Supply, one of the many diverse jobs vital to seafood processing in the commercial fishing industry. (Photo by Phil Mello)

Marie Louise Gomes makes scallop bags at Diamond Marine Supply, one of the many diverse jobs vital to seafood processing in the commercial fishing industry. (Photo by Phil Mello)

An innovative exhibit titled Following Fish – Navigate Through the New Bedford Fishery opens Friday, September 27, 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the New Bedford Whaling Museum. Following Fish debuts on the eve of the port’s tenth annual Working Waterfront Festival and precedes a gala concert at 7:30 p.m. in the Cook Memorial Theater to benefit the festival’s programming. Concert tickets are available at the door for $10. The public is cordially invited to the exhibit opening; RSVP is required in advance by calling (508) 997-0046, ext. 100.

Installed in the San Francisco Room, Andrew Wilde Gallery and the Davis Observation Deck overlooking the harbor, Following Fish brings the past and present together in a poignant and dramatic way, notes María Quintero, Curatorial Fellow and the exhibit’s lead curator. “It is easy to look out across the many draggers and scallopers and imagine a similarly sized fleet 150 years ago, except with wooden hulls, masts and spars. Following Fish draws a direct line from whaling then to fishing now,” she said.

Whaling was a dangerous profession and it is no different for the com­mercial fisherman today. Fishing remains one of the most dangerous occupations in the country, yet the men and women of New Bedford continue to go down to the sea for fish. As a result of their great efforts and with the assistance of processing plant workers on shore, New Bedford has been the nation’s highest grossing fishing port for 13 consecutive years.

Through an innovative design approach, Following Fish will be expanded upon over the course of the next few years. With the input of an advisory panel led by highly respected leaders in the field such as Drs. Brian Rothschild and Kevin Stokesbury, the museum’s curators will open up the exhibit development process to the public. Visitors can participate in interactive elements and share their opinions online as they navigate the fascinating, complex and arduous voyage to bring seafood from the ocean to the dinner table.

 In addition to being an engaging visual ex­perience, the exhibit aims to test new educational approaches for younger audiences while addressing many of the larger complex and vexing questions that envelope the industry today.

Featured are new acquisitions by contemporary artists includ­ing paintings by Dora Atwater Millikin, a 40” long model of the dragger Nobska by Westport model maker Bruce Gifford and the outdoor installation of ceramic fish by Nancy Train Smith. Extraordinary wood carvings by Leander Plummer (1857-1914) are juxtaposed with contemporary photography by Phil Mello and accompanied by oral histories with fishermen provided by Laura Orleans and the Working Waterfront Festival Committee.

Following Fish is sponsored by the William M. Wood Foundation. Tweet the exhibit with hashtag #FollowingFish_NBWM

Old Dartmouth Lyceum lecture series

Thursdays, September 19th, October 3rd & 24th, November 14th
This year the Old Dartmouth Lyceum lecture series will focus around the exhibit Arctic Visions: “Away then Floats the Ice-Island”. The Series takes place Thursday evenings on September 19th, October 3rd and 24th, and November 14th. Receptions in the Jacobs Family Gallery begin at 6:00 pm. Lectures in the Cook Memorial Theater begin at 7:00 pm.  Tickets are now on sale. See below for more information about the individual lectures and registration information.

A detail from the painting titled "View of the Sermitsialik Glacier" by William Bradford

A detail from the painting titled “View of the Sermitsialik Glacier” by William Bradford

September 19th
Russell Potter
Frozen Zones: Bradford, Arctic Photography and nineteenth-century Visual Culture
Mr. Potter teaches English and Media Studies at Rhode Island College in Providence, Rhode Island. His work encompasses hip hop culture, popular music, and the history of exploration of the Arctic in the nineteenth century. When the artist William Bradford chartered a voyage to the Arctic purely for the purposes of art – including photographers – he was revolutionizing both the scope and the immediacy of photography, bringing back a rich array of images, the first ever taken of Arctic by professional photographers. These photos he put to many uses –projected as lantern slide lectures, printed and used as view-books for painting commissions, and – most magnificently – as illustrations for the groundbreaking book The Arctic Regions.

October 3rd
Kevin Avery
Sea of Ice:  The Art of Arctic Exploration
Mr. Avery is a senior research scholar and a former associate curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and an adjunct professor in the art department of Hunter College, City University of New York. He will review the history of Arctic exploration in painting and illustration, with special reference to nineteenth-century artists and illustrators leading up to Frederic Church and New Bedford’s William Bradford.  Dr. Avery will reveal known or probable sources in the history of western imagery applied to the visualization of the alien landscape that was and, to most, still is the Arctic regions.

October 24th
Douglas Wamsley​
William Bradford’s 1869 Expedition, in Context with Arctic Travels of the 19th Century
Mr. Wamsley,  an independent scholar and attorney who has written extensively on the history of 19th century Arctic exploration. His most recent work is a biography, Polar Hayes, on the life and accomplishments of Dr. Isaac Israel Hayes, a participant in Bradford’s 1869 Greenland voyage. In 1869, a sailing excursion along the northwest coast of Greenland was not a venture to be taken lightly.  However, William Bradford’s voyage ably succeeded in navigating those ice-laden waters that year, while at the same time capturing vivid images of the “Frozen Zone”. This lecture recounts the history of that memorable expedition and its proper place in the broader context of 19th century arctic travels.

November 14th
Kenn Harper
Inuit and Whaling in the Bradford Era
Mr. Harper is a historian, linguist and writer, who has lived in the Arctic (both Greenland and Canada) for the past 47 years. He writes a weekly history column under the name Taissumani for Nunatsiaq News, the newspaper of record for Nunavut, Canada, and is the author of Give Me My Father’s Body: The Life of Minik, the New York Eskimo. He will speak on the whaling industry and the profound effect on the culture of Inuit in both Canada and Greenland. He will examine this impact, its effect on Inuit life, and Inuit adaptation to the stresses and demands of change and recount episodes from the lives of particular Inuit who used the whaling industry to their own advantage.

Buy Tickets Here or register by phone at  508-997-0046 ext. 100.
$15.00 per lecture (non-members, $20)
$50.00 for series (non-members, $75)

Old Dartmouth Lyceum is sponsored by Nye Lubricants and Bruce and Karen Wilburn.

Tweet hashtag: #ODLyceum2013

Museum Apprentices Create Children’s Stories

The Museum really enjoys highlighting the many ways in which our apprentices get involved in Whaling Museum programming and activities. This summer we’ve tasked them with creating their own children’s stories, so that they can be read during a new summer activity called Lunch Time Story Time.

Starting on Tuesday, July 30, from 1:00 – 2:00pm, and continuing on Tuesdays, August 6 and 13, several of the apprentices will read their stories in the Jacobs Family Gallery, to any children that would like to join them. After the stories have been read, the children in attendance can create and take home crafts that relate to the stories.  The apprentices have done a great job of writing these stories and creating and/or obtaining images to accompany the text.

Photo from Museum's Kendall Collection 2000.100.1838.137

Photo from Museum’s Kendall Collection 2000.100.1838.137

Let our ‘kids’ read to your kids. Bring a lunch if you’d like.  Lunch Time Story Time is FREE. Regular admission applies to visiting the Museum galleries. For more information contact Robert Rocha, (508) 717-6849 or via rrocha@whalingmuseum.org.

The Lazarus Project and the Wreck of the “Viking”

Re-imaging the Opening of Japan

 Guest post submitted by Gregory Heyworth Director of the Lazarus Project  and Associate Professor of English at the University of Mississippi.

“The past,” as Faulkner said, “is never dead. It isn’t even past.” This past May, a team of imaging scientists and students from the Lazarus Project, an initiative to recover damaged manuscripts using multispectral imaging technology housed at the University of Mississippi, arrived at the New Bedford Whaling Museum to prove Faulkner right.

The object of interest was a damaged logbook from 1862 faded into near illegibility. The method involved photographing the manuscript with a cutting edge 50-megapixel camera and LED light arrays in twelve wavelengths between the ultraviolet and the infrared. With careful image processing, multispectral photography can “see” text that has been washed away, faded and charred.

Lazarus Project

 [Image before and after]

While Drs. Gregory Heyworth and Roger Easton from the Lazarus Team regularly deal with ancient manuscripts, modern manuscripts can be equally challenging and historically important. That is certainly the case with much of the New Bedford collection. The significance of this particular logbook begins two centuries before the shipwreck of the Fairhaven merchant vessel off the coast of Japan.

For two hundred years between 1633 and 1853, while Western Europe was moving from Renaissance to Enlightnment to Industrial Revolution, Japan languished frozen in the past, a Hermit Kingdom cut-off from the rest of the world. Under the policy of the Tokugawa Shogunate known as the sakoku, any foreigner attempting to enter Japan did so upon pain of death, while natives were forbidden from leaving Japan. Aside from limited contact with the Dutch, Japan had no trade dealings with the West whatsoever.

As we all learned in high school history, all that changed in 1852-54 when Admiral Matthew Perry “opened” Japan, establishing a trade relationship and mutual amity. The truth, however, is more complicated. Perry’s “opening” of Japan was really an act of coercion, backed up by outright threats of military annihilation by a modern fleet of steam-driven warships. In practice, the Japanese capitulation was widely resisted by the general populace and the sakoku with its death-sentence for foreigners remained unchallenged.

Alongside the political narrative of the opening of Japan, scholars have been turning to the logbooks of whaling and merchant vessels to establish a more accurate social narrative of the period. The 1832 the shipwreck of Japanese fishermen on the coast of Washington, followed in 1841 by the more famous rescue of Manjiro and another crew of Japanese fisherman by a whaler off the coast of Japan, offer firsthand accounts of crucial early contact and the germs of a fragile detente between cultures without which Perry’s  trade treaties could never have succeeded in practice.

Among these early relations, perhaps none is more historically significant, and yet less studied, that the wreck of the Fairhaven merchant ship the Viking in 1863. With a crew of Americans and 400 Chinese immigrants, the Viking ran aground on the small Japanese island of Mikurajima. Faced by the suddeness of this foreign intrusion, the villagers took steps to execute the crew according to the law of sakoku until the village secretary intervened. In the ensuing months, a genuine friendship, aided by their creation of the first Japanese-English dictionary, grew between the sailors and villagers. In many ways, a truly open, modern Japan began on this small island, and its story is preserved in this unique neglected record of the Viking.

The Lazarus Project hopes to continue the process of recovery by collaborating with the New Bedford Whailing Museum in the creation of a digital archive of 19th century Japanese-American maritime relations held by the museum into a digital archive.

Maritime Curator presents at 4th Whaling History Symposium

Kendall Whaling Museum alumni Michael Dyer, Joost Schokkenbroek and Hayato Sakurai all presented at Sndefjord whaling history conference this June.

Kendall Whaling Museum alumni Michael Dyer, Joost Schokkenbroek and Hayato Sakurai all presented at Sandefjord whaling history conference this June.

This conference, which took place June 20-21, was organized under the auspices of Vestfold Museums and the Hvalfangstmuseet of Sandefjord. There were about forty attendees from thirteen nations. It took place at the Clarion Atlantic Hotel in Sandefjord, a large facility entirely decorated with installations of modern whaling equipment, art and architectural elements amassed as the personal collection of the hotel’s owner. Sixteen papers were selected for presentation from a pool of over thirty-five submissions in the call for papers – their largest response to date. Part of the reason for the large response is that the proceedings are published in an esteemed and useful hard-bound format.

Several of the papers were in direct response to previous articles published in the proceedings of previous symposia and collectively are building a body of work on certain subjects including the history of science and Soviet whaling. This kind of accrued knowledge effectively creates the sort of intellectual environment attractive to scholars. Additionally the opportunity for like-minded scholars, curators, enthusiasts and students to gather, talk and exchange ideas in a convivial atmosphere was one of greatest benefit and stated by the organizers to be of equal importance to the presentations. Many of the presenters had used the resources of the New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library and while all agreed that the resources were wonderful, most were more impressed with the level of service and professional assistance that they received while visiting in person. This is not the case in many research facilities according to several people.
Several of the papers dealt with modern whaling, as one might image. Alex Aguilar’s paper on the shore station of the Iberian Peninsula in the 20th century was particularly insightful with new analysis of the successes and failures of these shore stations.

Hayato Sakurai gave a superb overview of the history of the Taiji Whale Museum that combined town and national politics, public relations, whales, whaling and tourism. Oral history, general regional references and one particularly interesting paper on the history of whaling at Santa Catarina Island in Brazil contributed to a well-rounded look at the subjects.

Throughout the conference, the questions of globalization, global economic interactions, global environmental impacts and whaling as important driver of 19th and 20th century international affairs came to the fore. Both the U.S.A. and Norway had strong influences on other nations through whaling. This was a very academic symposium with few papers addressing collections, museums and their influence, or other such non-paper-based research projects.

Dyer’s was the final paper of the symposium. Entitled “Why black whales are called right whales” it combined art, history, biology and the history of science into one large humanities-based analysis of language, whaling and taxonomy in relationship to the world’s most endangered whale, Eubalaena glacialis.

The proceedings are due to be published next year.