All Hands - New Bedford Whaling Museum

All Hands

All Hands

New Bedford Whaling Museum

Big & Little Braitmayer Gallery

September 1, 2023 – September 8, 2024

New Bedford Whaling Museum Curator of Maritime History, Michael P. Dyer will explore the deep cultural connections between American whaling and the U.S. Navy in the 19th century up to the First World War. With a quarter-century experience studying, collecting, writing, and exhibiting American whaling and maritime history, Michael brings a mature perspective to this hitherto unexamined subject. Starting in the late 1980s with the U.S. Naval collections at the Kittery Historical and Naval Museum in Kittery, Maine, and working at Mystic Seaport Museum, the Kendall Whaling Museum, and the Australian National Maritime Museum, he has grown into this subject at every professional level.


The exhibit will feature diverse objects such as whalemen’s scrimshaw of naval battles, marine paintings and prints, and personal biographies and objects of sailors who served in both branches. It will feature U.S. Naval Hydrographic Office sea charts to which whalers contributed, Federal documents supporting the United States Exploring Expedition, and the facts surrounding numerous naval protection and police operations in seas the world round in support of whalers.


Objects from other institutional collections will be included such as cultural artifacts from Oceania collected by Lieutenant John Collings Long, stationed on the USS United States in Callao, Peru, in 1825 at the time the U.S. schooner Dolphin was dispatched to arrest the mutineers of the whaleship Globe of Nantucket. These objects are held at the Portsmouth Atheneaum and will be exhibited on loan. Other subjects include Herman Melville’s time spent in both services in the 1840s, and the adventures of Captain David Porter defending American whalers in the Pacific in the War of 1812. American whalers also served with distinction in the Navy during the Civil War, and many objects reflect their service and experiences.

This exhibition and publication were made possible by support from:

Boston Marine Society

Rodney H. Brown

Marilyn & David Ferkinhoff

Furthermore: A Program of the J.M. Kaplan Fund

Alan & Janice Granby

Alison Hedges & Robert Saunders

Captain & Mrs. Robert G. Walker