Azorean Whaleman Gallery

Bourne Building main level and upper level
Ongoing Exhibition

The Azorean Whaleman Gallery is the only permanent exhibition space in the United States that honors the Portuguese people and their significant contributions to this country’s maritime heritage. It explores especially the Azorean impact in our region and the development of a vibrant Azorean community in New Bedford. The relationship between the Atlantic islands of the Azores and New Bedford, Massachusetts demonstrate the power of maritime culture to link peoples, ideas, traditions, and communities.

Since the United States’ earliest years, Yankee ships have visited the Azores’s shores. Prevailing westerly winds, the north-easterly flowing Gulf Stream, and a location in the middle of deep water sperm whale habitat made the islands perfect to serve the needs of whalers. Whaling ships took on both provisions and crew in the Azores, laying the foundation for a long and deep relationship between the islands and American whaling ports such as New Bedford.

The Portuguese in New Bedford continued to be tied closely to the sea, working on whale ships as both sailors and captains. They entered business, as ship owners, textile manufactures, and entrepreneurs. Azorean Americans retained close ties to the islands, while creating a unique, dynamic community in the United States.

The Azorean Whaleman Gallery has recently been updated. Two major new elements are a large-scale model of an Azorean Whaleboat (view Azorean Whaleboat Model photographs on flickr), and a recreated lookout (vigia).


audio tours logoSample from the Azorean Whaleman Gallery Audio Guide

Add depth and understanding to your visit. Rent the Audio Guide player at the Museum’s admission desk.


BELOW: The Last Whalers, William Neufeld’s 1969 documentary about sperm whaling
from the island of Pico in the Azores is made possible by a grant from Mass Humanities.
The running time of this edited version is approximately 19 minutes.




The Azorean Whaleman Gallery is a gift of the Government of Portugal honoring the Portuguese people and their significant contribution to the maritime heritage of New Bedford.