Current Exhibitions

Captain Paul Cuffe: His Work, Vision, and Living Legacy

An exhibition devoted to the life, times, and legacy of Captain Paul Cuffe — an abolitionist, entrepreneur, merchant, whaler, navigator and much more.

Frederick Douglass Bicentennial: 1818 – 2018

Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey, a.k.a. Frederick Douglass was a fiery orator, author, champion of abolition, women’s rights and a freedom fighter in the age of the Civil War.

A New Bedford Whaler in Africa: Frederick Sowle’s photographs of Senegal and Cape Verde

Unlike other photographs of colonial Africa from this era, Sowle’s images beautifully depict individuals engaging in daily life and interactions, with no hint of ethnocentrism or stereotyping.

A Spectacle in Motion: The Grand Panorama of a Whaling Voyage ‘Round the World – The Experience

Stand on the bow of the world’s largest model whaleship, the Lagoda, and watch the Panorama scroll by in a life-sized digital format projected in a full theatrical setting.

Into Infinity: Art by Milton Brightman

Explore a local South Coast artist working in oil paint, pen and ink and watercolor to create works autobiographical in nature.

After Ryder: Photographs by Nicholas Whitman

A selection of Nicholas Whitman’s recent photographic work adjacent to the Whaling Museum’s Albert Pinkham Ryder painting, Landscape, c. 1870.

Enlightened Encounters: The Two Nations of Manjiro Nakahama

An exploration of the remarkable life of Manjiro Nakahama (1827-1898), the first Japanese person to live in and learn English in the U.S.

The East Unlocks its Gates: American Whalers and Trade in Asia

This companion exhibition to Enlightened Encounters focuses on the broader connections between the eastern seaboard of America and Asia.

Whales Today

The first installation of a major expansion of Whales Today, the Museum’s whale ecology, ocean health, and marine mammal conservation exhibition.

O’er the Wide and Tractless Sea: Original Art of the Yankee Whale Hunt

An exhibition accompanying Michael Dyer’s new book O’er the Wide and Tractless Sea: Original Art of the Yankee Whale Hunt.

Thou Shalt Knot: Clifford W. Ashley

The Museum celebrates the work of the master knot tyer, maritime artist, historian, and author Clifford W. Ashley.

"The Spray will Come Back": Solo Circumnavigator Captain Joshua Slocum

An exhibition accompanying Stan Grayson’s new biography of Joshua Slocum – the first person to circumnavigate the globe singlehandedly.

The Historic Mariners' Home

Four new exhibitions in the Mariners’ Home explore a theme pertaining to the historic home.

The Yanks are Coming!

Selected World War I posters from the collections of the New Bedford Whaling Museum.

For the Love of Beauty

Featuring New England Fine and Decorative Arts, including the Museum’s Pairpoint and Mount Washington Glass Collections.

Energy and Enterprise: Industry and the City of New Bedford

Focusing on the people, products, and infrastructures behind the rhythmic rises and falls of an industrial city.

Harboring Hope in Old Dartmouth: 1602-1827

This exhibition contextualizes the story of yankee whaling within the larger scope of Old Dartmouth history and the evolution of the port city of New Bedford.

"Go a whaling I must, and I would": Life Aboard a New Bedford Whaling Vessel

This exhibition highlights the men, materials and activities aboard a whaling vessel.

A Voyage Around the World: Cultures Abroad, Cultures at Home

Grab your passport and experience the diversity of cultures encountered by whalers as they travel the world. 

Scrimshaw: Shipboard Art of the Whalers

A sumptuous exhibition of the best, most representative, and most compelling curiosities of our vast scrimshaw holdings.

Cape Verdean Maritime Exhibit

Connections between New Bedford and Cape Verde, the unique characteristics of Cape Verdean culture, and the special legacy of that culture and history here in New Bedford.

Azorean Whaleman Gallery

Chronicling Azorean/American cultural exchange in the 19th century.


Climb aboard an 89-foot, half-scale model of the Bark Lagoda, built inside the Bourne Building in 1916.

Skeletons of the Deep

Come learn about the four whale skeletons at the New Bedford Whaling Museum.

From Pursuit to Preservation: The History of Human Interaction with Whales

Explores the human fascination with whales and the history of whaling. 

Outdoor Exhibits

View outdoor installations on the Museum Plaza, along Water Street and from the Davis Observation Deck.

The Forecastle

A replica of a ship's forecastle in the Casa dos Botes Discovery Center.

Maritime Treasures

Figureheads, shipwright's tools, sternboard carvings and more can be found on display in the Cook Memorial Theater.