Rotating Exhibitions Archives - New Bedford Whaling Museum

Henry Horenstein

Organized as a component of the NBWM exhibition and oral history initiative, Common Ground: Community Stories, this exhibition presents an intimate and photographically compelling look at life in the SouthCoast in the early 1970s.

Henry Horenstein

Upper Level Galleries

Opened: June 9, 2022

Closing: December 18, 2022

CAPTION: (above) Self Portrait with Family, Dartmouth, 1972 

Exhibition Opening and Reception

Thursday, June 9th
5:00 - 6:00pm

Join artist, Henry Horenstein, and New Bedford Whaling Museum Chief Curator, Naomi Slipp, as they discuss the photography in this series of works, which Horenstein calls "a portrait of a unique place and time. A history." Meet the artist and enjoy light refreshments.

Horenstein characterizes this series as “a portrait of a unique place and time. A history.”

Between 1970-77, Henry Horenstein took medium format photographs of his family, neighbors and friends – first, in the SouthCoast areas of New Bedford and Dartmouth and, later, in Greater Boston, where his parents moved. Organized as a component of the NBWM exhibition and oral history initiative, Common Ground: Community Stories, “Close Relations” presents an intimate and photographically compelling look at life in the SouthCoast in the early 1970s. Horenstein characterizes this series as “a portrait of a unique place and time. A history.” 

In this body of work, Horenstein adopts a snapshot aesthetic that was in widespread use by artists of the contemporaneous “New Documents Movement,” including Lee Friedlander, Diane Arbus, and Garry Winogrand, among many others. As MoMA curator John Szarkowski explained in 1967, this generation of photographers “redirected the technique and aesthetic of documentary photography to more personal ends. Their aim has been not to reform life but to know it.” Szarkowski would later describe how photography fell into two camps: mirrors and windows, writing: “The distance between them is to be measured not in terms of the relative force or originality of their work, but in terms of their conceptions of what a photograph is: is it a mirror, reflecting a portrait of the artist who made it, or a window, through which one might better know the world?” Horenstein’s works are both: mirrors, which reflect a portrait of the artist in this era of his life, but also of a community, a time, and a place, and as windows allowing visitors an intimate glimpse into this period. 

About the Artist
New Bedford native, Henry Horenstein, is a professional photographer, filmmaker, and teacher, who studied at RISD in the 1970s under Harry Callahan, Aaron Siskind, and Minor White. A longtime professor of photography at RISD, Horenstein’s works are held in major museum collections and he is also the author of over 30 books.

William Shattuck: Reveries

This exhibition highlights the artist's evocative, moody landscape paintings, often referencing the pastoral surroundings of his Dartmouth, MA home.

William Shattuck: Reveries

Big Braitmayer Gallery

Opened: June 3, 2022

Closing: December 30, 2022

CAPTION: (above) “Moment," by Bill Shattuck

Exhibition Opening and Reception

Thursday, June 2
5:00 - 6:00pm

Join artist, William Shattuck, and New Bedford Whaling Museum Chief Curator, Naomi Slipp, as they discuss Shattuck's exhibition, Reveries. Meet the artist and enjoy light refreshments.

“Drawn in by color, composition and light, I find I’m also inspired just as easily by the temperature, the character of the air and atmosphere in the moment. I am not a Plein Air painter by any means, but I do spend a good deal of time walking through the fields, woods and marshes along this shoreline, noting the beauty and interplay between land, water and sky. I’ll sometimes make a line drawing with color notes, then eventually execute a finished piece in my studio.” -- Shattuck

William Shattuck lives in Southeastern Massachusetts. His paintings reflect a fascination with the tidal marshes, estuaries and woodlands along that coastline. Having moved there in 1980 from New York, he has appreciated the changing patterns of light and weather throughout different seasons and times of day.

This exhibition features Shattuck’s evocative, moody landscape paintings. Shattuck employs careful brushwork and layered glazes to capture early morning light, haze on the marsh, or eerie glow of twilight on darkened tree trunks. His works evoke the attention to detail of the French Barbizon school, the impressionist studies of light and time by Claude Monet, and the luminescent glow of Maxfield Parrish.

These large-scale oil on canvas paintings render the scenery around his Dartmouth home as if attendant to verisimilitude. In fact, each landscape is a fiction, a fantasy construct produced by the artist from memory, a pastiche of mood, light, and atmosphere. They are quiet, contemplative, and introspective paintings, that marshal a kind of hushed reverence from visitors.

Large in scale, Shattuck's artwork draws viewers into their detail and scenery, and invite them to bask in the stillness of a transient moment captured in time.

About the Artist
William Shattuck, born in 1950, was raised in the New York City area. Primarily self taught, he eventually studied painting. printing and drawing at The Art Students League and The School for Visual Arts, both in Manhattan. At an early age, he visited his uncle, Peter Shattuck in the mid 1950s at his studio inn Greenwich Village, on Thompson Street. He was his father's youngest brother, a painter, and inspiration.

"I thought, adults are actually allowed to do this? Painting and drawing?" -- Shattuck

From 1973 to 1980 he worked in New York City - first for The New York Daily News, then as a commercial artist for an advertising firm and as a freelance illustrator. It was during this time that he became fascinated with translating the written word into visual language.

Upon moving to Southeastern Massachusetts in 1980, where his wife Dorothy grew up, he began painting the beautiful wet lands and marshes of the area while still pursuing his fascination with more narrative work, primarily through highly rendered charcoal drawings.

Shattuck taught for two years at The College for Visual Arts at The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. In 1993, he and writer, Deborah Kovacs, collaborated on the children's book, "Moonlight On The River," a story about his two sons published by Viking Penguin Books.

His work can be found in private and museum collections, including The DeCordova Museum in Lincoln, MA, as well as the print and drawing collection of The Wiggins Gallery at The Boston Public Library, and corporate collections.

Sailing to Freedom: Maritime Dimensions of the Underground Railroad

Sailing to Freedom highlights little-known stories and describes the less-understood maritime side of the Underground Railroad, including the impact of African Americans' paid and unpaid waterfront labor. 

Sailing to Freedom: Maritime Dimensions of the Underground Railroad

Center Street Gallery

Opened: May 20, 2022

Closing: November 20, 2022

CAPTION: (above) Escaping from Norfolk, Virginia in Captain Lee’s skiff," from William Still, The Underground Rail Road: A Record of Facts, Authentic Letters, Narratives, etc. (Philadelphia: Porter & Coates, 1872)

Curated by Michael Dyer, NBWM, and Timothy Walker, UMass-Dartmouth 

This exhibition is an extension of the 2021 publication of the same title, edited by Timothy Walker and released by UMass Press. It corresponds with an NEH Summer teacher’s institute “Sailing to Freedom: New Bedford and the Underground Railroad,” running in July 2022.

Buy the Book
View the NEH Teacher's Institute
Attend the Sailing to Freedom Conference


“The advantages of escape by boat were early discerned by slaves living near the coast or along inland rivers. Vessels engaged in our coastwise trade became more or less involved in transporting fugitives from Southern ports to Northern soil.” -- William H. Siebert, The Underground Railroad from Slavery to Freedom (1898), 81.

Self-emancipation along the Underground Railroad was not entirely by overland routes. What has been largely overlooked by historians is the great number of enslaved persons who made their way to freedom using coastal water routes along the Atlantic seaboard. Enslaved African Americans often escaped by sea aboard merchant and passenger ships, or using smaller watercraft.

This groundbreaking exhibition expands our understanding of how freedom was achieved by sea and what the journey looked like for many African Americans.

Research undertaken for this exhibition demonstrates that a far larger number of fugitives than previously thought actually escaped bondage by sea -- especially those fleeing from coastal areas in the Deep South, where slaves were commonly employed in diverse maritime industries, such as: estuary and near-coastal fishing or oystering, tidal river boatmen and ferrymen, coastwise cargo shipping crews, shipyard artisans, or stevedores and longshoremen.

Such work gave enslaved persons significant experience with vessels and seafaring, a basic knowledge of coastal geography, direct or indirect contact with ships’ crews from northern free states, and ready access to vessels heading out to sea.

This specialized strategic knowledge conveyed power and opportunity. For enslaved persons in the far coastal south, escape by water was the logical option, and the only viable way to achieve an exit from their enslaved circumstances.

Exhibition Programming

The Overseas Freeway: Maritime Workers and Fugitives in the Struggle against Slavery

With Marcus Rediker

Thursday, May 19
6:00-6:45 pm: Reception & Exhibition Viewing
6:45-7:45 pm: Lecture

Registration is free.
Advance registration is required.

Join Marcus Rediker, professor of Atlantic History at the University of Pittsburgh and Guest Curator at the Tate Britain Museum, as he discusses the New Bedford Whaling Museum’s exhibition, Sailing to Freedom: Maritime Dimensions of the Underground Railroad. 

Join us to discuss this groundbreaking exhibition that expands our understanding of how freedom was achieved by sea, and what the journey looked like for many African Americans. 

Marcus Rediker is Distinguished Professor of Atlantic History at the University of Pittsburgh. His “histories from below” have won numerous awards, including the George Washington Book Prize, and have been translated into seventeen languages worldwide.  He is co-author, with Peter Linebaugh of The Many-Headed Hydra: Sailors, Slaves, Commoners and the Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic (2000) and author of The Slave Ship: A Human History (2007).  He produced a prize-winning documentary film, Ghosts of Amistad, (2013) directed by Tony Buba.  He is currently working as guest curator in the JMW Turner Gallery at Tate Britain and writing a book about escaping slavery by sea in antebellum America.

This program is made possible by the New Bedford Whaling Museum, the New Bedford Historical Society, a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities through the National Writing Project, as well as funding from the following institutions: the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, the New Bedford Whaling National Historic Park, the BayCoast Bank Foundation, the Southcoast Health Foundation, and the law firm of Lang, Xifaras, and Bullard.

Thanks To

Major funding for the exhibition “Sailing to Freedom: Maritime Dimensions of the Underground Railroad” has come from the National Endowment for the Humanities through a National Writing Project “More Perfect Union” grant and the New Bedford Historical Society.
Thanks to the following contributors for financial support of the exhibition:
New Bedford Historical Society
Office of the Provost, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park
BayCoast Bank Foundation
Southcoast Health Foundation
Law Firm of Lang, Xifaras, and Bullard
Thanks to the following institutions and individuals for the use of images from their collections:
New Bedford Free Public Library
The African American Museum of Philadelphia
The American Antiquarian Society
The Maryland Center for History and Culture
Lee Blake
Carl Cruz
Thanks to the following individuals for research in support of the exhibition:
Daphne Jonsson
Megan Jeffreys
Shawn Quigley
Kate Blackmer
Jonathan Schroeder
Lee Blake
Carl J. Cruz
Lynda Ames

Local Artist Showcase

Featured Artist
David Formanek
On View Now


IMAGE: David Formanek
Leander, Devonia, and Ichthian

Local Artist Showcase

First Floor

The New Bedford Whaling Museum proudly celebrates and showcases some of the talented artists of the region. The exhibition rotates regularly and is located on the first floor of the Museum. This is an area that is accessible for free, no admission required.

The New Bedford Whaling Museum supports Local Artists by exhibiting work in a large wall vitrine in Jacobs Family Gallery, a prominent location that is highly visible and free for visitors. The Museum promotes these exhibitions on its website and through our social media.

We invite local artists to apply to have their work featured in our Local Artists Case!

Submit your application via email to:  Please do not call or email. You will be contacted by a member of the curatorial department if your submission has been selected.

Please refer to the FAQ below for more information and application requirements.

On View Now

Featured Artist: David Formanek

The current artist featured in the Museum’s Local Artists Case is David Formanek. Formanek has an MFA from University at Albany, SUNY, where he studied archaeology and geology, and has studied architecture at the Graduate School of Design, Harvard.

He states: “Like so many artists before me, I owe a debt to classical mythology. In Roman religion, a numen was a spirit of a particular place. These Tivertonumens are uniquely local, made from bedrock that I cut and polish, and from the roots of brambles that, if I let them, would surround my house like Sleeping Beauty’s castle. The lives of roots are recorded in the shapes they grow in their quest for water, shapes suggesting mysterious creatures of the Underworld. Careful sawing and filing reveal those forms. I add color, and harden them with acrylic plastic, a museum conservation technique."