Collection Highlights

Historic artifacts, documents, books, and photographs collected over 110 years

Collection Highlights

Historic artifacts, documents, books, and photographs collected over 110 years

Collection Highlights

Historic artifacts, documents, books, and photographs collected over 110 years

Collection Highlights

Historic artifacts, documents, books, and photographs collected over 110 years

Collection Highlights

CONTACT

D. Jordan Berson
Director of Collections
jberson@whalingmuseum.org
508-717-6845

The New Bedford Whaling Museum has been collecting historic artifacts, documents, books, and photographs for over 110 years, it is not surprising that our collections today are large and diverse, comprised of approximately ¾ million items. Here are some of the highlights of our collection.

While owning the world’s most comprehensive collection of art, artifacts and original documents of whaling history the Museum also collects broadly in maritime and local history. Collections include objects across a broad range of categories: fine and decorative art, folk art, photography, domestic artifacts, artifacts that represent the history of technology and industry, books, manuscripts, maps and charts, ethnographic materials, clothing and textiles, and extensive personal, business, and financial records. This is a very diverse and rich social history collection.

Paintings and Drawings

The criteria for this selection are aesthetics and historical significance, with a maximum of three works by any one artist.

Whaling Logbooks and Journals

Some logbooks in the Library’s vast collection have been digitized, while others are available in microfilm reels. The Museum’s logbook and journal database can be downloaded by clicking the button below.

Manuscripts

The richest primary resources for Old Dartmouth local history, New Bedford whaling, industrial and social history, biographical information and marine archives are to be found in the manuscript collections of the Research Library and Archives.

Books

The library holdings consist of 18,000 published titles in ten languages documenting American and international whaling history, voyages and travels, exploration, natural history, local history and New England regional history.

Photography

New Bedford has a rich photographic heritage. The medium’s arrival corresponds with the city’s age of prosperity. The Museum actively collects both historic and contemporary photography.

Maps & Charts

This collection comprises of maps and charts within the New Bedford Whaling Museum and Research Library. These items include both facsimiles and originals, ranging from 1670 to 2008, with the bulk dating from 1840 to 1925.

Navigational Instruments

Catalogue of the Navigating Instruments in the Collection of the New Bedford Whaling Museum, by Willem F.J. Mörzer Bruyns (pdf 555 kb). The Museum has over 150 navigating instruments.

Scrimshaw and Fakeshaw

Installed in 2012, this is a sumptuous “permanent” exhibition of the best, most representative, and most compelling curiosities of our vast scrimshaw holdings — a generous selection drawn from the world’s largest and greatest collection. The exhibition is the partial result of 25+ years of cataloguing and research.

Japanese Prints

Selected Japanese Prints in the Kendall Collection of the New Bedford Whaling Museum by Stuart M. Frank, Ph.D., originally published in Deutsches Schiffahrtsarchiv, 25:2002 (Bremerhaven: Deutsches Schiffahrts Museum, 2003); here edited and somewhat revised, November 2013.

Lagoda

Step aboard the spectacular Lagoda, the New Bedford Whaling Museum’s half-scale model of the whaling bark. Built inside the Bourne Building in 1915-16, with funds donated by Emily Bourne in memory of her father, whaling merchant Jonathan Bourne, Jr., Lagoda is the largest ship model in existence.

William A. Watkins Collection of Marine Mammal Sound Recordings and Data

Access recordings of more than 60 marine mammal species collected over a span of seven decades in a wide range of geographic areas by Watkins and many others.

Digital Collections

Existing and emerging digital technologies affect how we envision our library and deliver educational programs. Digital scholarship at the Museum develops and collaborates on projects that seek to engage a wide audience.