Collections Overview

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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. 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.

New Bedford Whaling Museum Collections Development Plan (PDF)
This 2015 document describes the present collections of the museum and offers guidelines for their development.

AUDIO VERSION –Treasures of the Whaling Museum: Touchstones to the Region’s Past
Listen to each chapter of Treasures of the Whaling Museum here.


Collections Highlights

Last modified: June 29, 2016