Past Exhibitions

One of the advantages of the digital age is that a page or pages online, unlike the printed page, are instantly editable. Here we present exhibitions that have ended. At the same time we will add related content if it improves or adds to the ideas presented. We will do this respecting the integrity of the original pages.

2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015 and 2014 Past Exhibitions are listed on this page. If you are looking for information from a previous year, click on the following links  2013    2012    before 2012  

Inside Out!

An outdoor exhibition series – photographs representing a sampling of the stories presented within our walls.

De Wind is Op! Climate, Culture and Innovation in Dutch Maritime Painting

An exploration of our extraordinary collections of Golden Age Dutch and Flemish paintings through a fresh lens.

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.

Under a Stiff Breeze: The Art of Wind and Water

Featuring some of the more tempestuous works of marine painting in the collection along with a selection of Matthew Fontaine Maury’s Wind and Current Charts.

The Photographer’s Brush: Watercolors by Norman Fortier

This exhibition presented a unique opportunity to see many works from private collections by a truly remarkable local artist.

Portraits of a City

Photographs from the Museum’s Standard Times collection take you on a journey through the neighborhoods and vibrant ethnic enclaves, wharves, establishments, individuals, and legendary stories that marked New Bedford in the early 20th century.

George Gale: ‘A Sea-nurtured Artist’

More than 30 whaling and maritime prints and drawings on paper by the New Bedford illustrator George Gale.

The Forecastle

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

Masterworks of Marine Painting

A selection of the finest oil paintings of maritime scenes in the Museum’s collection.

Cape Verdean Voices: An Exhibition in Honor of Judge George N. Leighton

Showcasing many forms of media from our local community, this exhibition reflected local Cape Verdean voices and covered themes such as immigration, island culture(s), family, Cape Verdean and Cape Verdean American identity, Cape Verdean folklore, and Cape Verdean history.

Young & Powerful

Stories, reflections, and experiences of apprentices past and present.

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.

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

An exhibition to accompany 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 celebrated the work of the master knot tyer, maritime artist, historian, and author Clifford W. Ashley.

The Historic Mariners' Home

Exhibitions in the Mariners’ Home explored themes pertaining to the historic home.

Into Infinity: Art by Milton Brightman

A local South Coast artist working in oil paint, pen and ink, and watercolor creates works autobiographical in nature.

The Yanks are Coming!

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

A New Bedford Mariner 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.

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

An exploration of the human fascination with whales and the history of whaling.

Whales Today

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

Portugal and the Great War – Contexts and Protagonists

By going back to the origins, contexts, impact and memories of the First World War, the exhibition examined the various aspects of Portuguese participation in this global conflict.

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

Set amidst an historic textile mill in New Bedford, this was the first time in generations that the entire Panorama could be seen by the public.

Cuffe Kitchen & Park

A multi-media experience about prominent merchant, philanthropist, community leader, civil rights advocate and abolitionist Captain Paul Cuffe (1759 – 1817).

Grand Maritime Paintings from the Permanent Collections

Featuring local painters R. Swain Gifford, William Bradford, Lemuel Eldred, Clement Nye Swift, and Charles Henry Gifford.

Timeless Toys

Featuring Punch and Judy puppets, books, games, and circus memorabilia.

Harpoons and Whalecraft

The full spectrum of whaling weaponry devised in the 19th century, from classic harpoons to massive guns, providing new insight into the greatest big-game hunt ever pursued by man.

“These are My People!”: The Story of Artistides de Sousa Mendes

This nationally touring exhibition, appropriate for audiences of all ages, tells the gripping true story of the largest rescue action by a single individual during the Holocaust.

Reed’s Modern Studio

An Apprenticeship Program Exhibition – modernizing photographer James E. Reed (1864-1939) and reviving his legacy.

Celebrating Sippican: Marion in the Golden Age

Marion history as it rose in social and cultural prominence in the late 19th century as a destination resort community.

Exploring Biodiversity in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary

Winning art from the Massachusetts Marine Educators 2017 Marine Art Contest

Azorean Whalers: A Photographic Retrospective

Featuring images of photographers Louis Mazzantenta and Gemina Garland-Lewis with a focus on the people and cultural history of Azorean whaling.

Out There: Peter Pereira Photojournalist

The extraordinary work of New Bedford’s award-winning photojournalist Peter Pereira.

Claus Hoie: "The Log of the Whaler Helena" and Related Works

Illustrations by renowned Norwegian-American artist Claus Hoie, who specialized in whaling subjects and Moby-Dick inspired scenes.

Famine, Friends and Fenians

New Bedford stood front and center in a sweep of history vividly brought to life in this major exhibition. From the Great Irish Famine through to 1916, New Bedford can claim its fair share of line honors in an intriguing story combining Yankee grit and Irish pluck.

Early 20th Century Norwegian Whaling in Co Mayo, Ireland

A photographic exhibition presented by the National Parks & Wildlife Service, Ballycroy, Westport and Co Mayo.

Mapping Ahab's "Storied Waves"

Whaling and the Geography of Moby-Dick – an examination of the tools, techniques and resources mentioned by Melville.

Inner Light: The World of William Bradford

Oils, watercolors, and sketchbooks illuminate the life and work of one of New Bedford's greatest artists.

Power, Performance and Speed in 20th Century Yacht Design

A celebration of two masters of American yacht design – C. Raymond Hunt and W. Starling Burgess.

Treasures of the Whaling Museum: Touchstones to the Region's Past

While many of our treasures are on display throughout the Museum, this show highlighted objects included in the book of the same name that are not included in thematic exhibitions in other galleries.

Following Fish

From the upper deck of the Museum visitors could see a beautiful panoramic view of the local fishing fleet and imagine being at the local fishery in the past, present, and future.

Oceanic Harvest

Mixed-media prints inspired by Moby-Dick and created by Robert Del Tredici and Kathleen Piercefield were featured. The prints were recent acquisitions of the Melville Society Archive, which is housed at the Whaling Museum.


Large-scale photographs by internationally renowned artist Nuno Sá, the most awarded wildlife photographer from Portugal.

International Gallery

Highlights of the Museum’s exceptional collection of fine and decorative arts, navigational instruments, ship models, artifacts, manuscripts, and maps from around the world.

In the Heart of the Sea: Hollywood goes A-Whaling

Thanks to the generosity of Warner Bros. Pictures, this exhibition featured four costumes on loan from the film In the Heart of the Sea with additional artifacts included from the Museum collection.

Around the World and Back Again: New Bedford Artists Abroad

From the mosques of the Middle East to the Roman Forum, see the world as 19th century New Bedford did: through the eyes of its artists.


Favorite pieces from the Museum's ceramics collection, representing various techniques and ranging from the fine and decorative arts.

Of Earth and Sea

Contemporary artists respond to the New Bedford Whaling Museum collection.

Benjamin Russell: Whaleman-Artist, Entrepreneur

This exhibition explored Russell’s self-training and subsequent work targeting an audience with specialized knowledge of whaling. 

The Art of Seeing Whales

Highlights from the Elizabeth Schultz Collection, the Melville Society Archive, and the New Bedford Whaling Museum.

The Art of the Ship Model

Marine models viewed as a true decorative art form. Collections of the past, present and future.

Martin & Moby

Large scale paper cuts of various interpretations taken from the text of Moby-Dick.

Glass from the City of Light

Beautiful glass lighting, including the renowned Pairpoint “puffy” and reverse-painted table lamps, together with art glass made locally by the Mt. Washington Glass Company.

Harbor Views

Images of New Bedford and Fairhaven from the permanent collection.