- Digital Scholarship
Treasures of the Museum
As a touchstone to the region’s past, the New Bedford Whaling Museum has evolved as a nexus for the diverse communities of southeastern Massachusetts. How did the Museum come into existence and why does its relevance continue to grow with each generation? The answers are presented in this comprehensive new publication, designed as a keepsake volume of the museum experience, in which concise text and copious reproductions illuminate the history and scope of the world’s largest museum dedicated to the global interaction of humans with whales.
Motivated to preserve the whaling artifacts and narratives of the region, the Museum was founded in 1903 by the Old Dartmouth Historical Society whose members included the leading families of the American whaling industry. Established “to create and foster an interest in the history of Old Dartmouth” – which today comprises New Bedford, Acushnet, Dartmouth, Fairhaven and Westport, Massachusetts – the Society continues to oversee the steady growth of the Museum, which is located on an ancient hillside campus within New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park.
This volume documents the Museum’s many superlatives, including the world’s largest library of whaling logbooks, prints, and journals and the largest collection of scrimshaw. The Museum collection exceeds more than 750,000 items and is home to the world’s largest ship model, Lagoda, a half-scale whale ship built in 1916. The complete skeletons of four species of whale, including a rare Blue whale – the world’s largest mammal – a sperm whale and a humpback, plus a mother and fetus of the highly endangered Northern Atlantic Right whale, inform today’s pressing global issues of the pursuit and preservation of these remarkable animals.
Funded in part by the New York Community Trust – Wattles Family Charitable Trust Fund, this book is a must-have memento for whaling history enthusiasts, scholars and a growing number of visitors from around the world to the New Bedford Whaling Museum.
Publication date: 2015
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New Bedford Whaling Museum: Treasures of the Old Dartmouth Historical Society graphic design by Lakuna Design