Reflections - New Bedford Whaling Museum


photo credit: Phillip Mello, Modesto Caril, Clam House Worker, New Bedford. Digital photograph, 2008. NBWM 2009.1.12.


New Bedford Whaling Museum

San Francisco Gallery

April 26th, 2024 - October 27, 2024

The photography collection at the New Bedford Whaling Museum is replete with views of and about the water, often with reflections on the water doubling images of the sun, sails, or wharves above it. In general, water asks humans to reflect: the ocean is a vast space, with a visual blankness that lends itself to contemplative meditation. As Herman Melville writes in Moby-Dick, “Yes, as every one knows, meditation and water are wedded for ever.”

Reflections is an exhibition that asks viewers to reflect on water’s role in labor and leisure. Photographs in the exhibition will provoke questions about how and when we take time to reflect, and the water’s particular ability to hush or heighten one’s internal state. This will include work by photographers from the collection such as Stephen Fellows Adams, T.E.M. White, Dr. Henry Dudley Prescott, Theodosia Potter Chase, Norman Fortier, and Phillip Mello—some of which will likely be on display at the Museum for the very first time. Titled “Reflections,” this exhibition uses photographs to engage viewers’ own reflective acts: reflecting on the water, on photography, and on themselves.