Whaling History Symposium to focus on New Bedford Port District, Oct. 19-20

(NEW BEDFORD, Mass.) – 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of whaleship models and the challenges of building them, and will provide a systematic examination of their value as historical documents, sublime aesthetic byproducts of local seafaring, and relics that pay homage to a unique maritime heritage.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, Jr. 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 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 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: frontdesk@whalingmuseum.org

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

SCHEDULE

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.

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 19

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.

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 20

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.

For more information contact:

Arthur Motta
Dir., Mkt & Communications
New Bedford Whaling Museum
18 Johnny Cake Hill
New Bedford, MA 02740
Tel 508/997-0046  ext 153
Fax 508/997-0018