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

The Experience text graphic

Exhibition at the Whaling Museum
Bourne Building

Exhibition Opening Date: July 29, 2018

Spectacle in Motion Gala graphic

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, and experience what Benjamin Russell and other whalers saw as they left the port of New Bedford and traveled the sea in search of whales.

As the Panorama was being conserved, it was photographed at high resolution and now there is a fully digitized recreation of the entire painting for the first time in history. To re-create the original Panorama, this exhibition features the digital version of the life-sized Panorama projected to simulate the 19th-century experience on a theatrical stage (similar to the concept on the cover of the Museum’s Summer Bulletin and the stage graphic above). The stage set is based on drawings and prints from the period and is installed off the Lagoda’s bow so visitors can experience the performance from the deck, from theater seating on the floor level, or from vantage points to the port and starboard of the iconic whaleship. As the original score and narrative have been lost over time, they have been recreated and remastered for the new installation, and includes new research and points of interest.

Dive deeper into the specifics of the Panorama story on a large, touch-screen, interactive kiosk. The kiosk features a map of the voyage, information on related Museum artifacts and paintings, and the Panorama’s conservation history. You will be able to zoom in close to any scene or detail that interests you and get rich context for each section.

Enhancing the experience, artifacts from the Museum’s permanent Collections further illustrate Russell’s own global travels and connect locations represented in the Panorama with relevant ethnographic material and objects. Exhibitions that tell the stories of Yankee Whaling, the connections with the Azores and Cabo Verde, as well as the many stories told in the existing Whaling Voyage ‘Round the World exhibition help amplify the content of the Panorama. The Panorama in the context of its own time – the era of the “public spectacle” is explored in the exhibition, and includes complementing pieces from the Museum’s permanent Collection.


Audio Tour Dive deeper into the scenes and stories told throughout the Panorama.

Watch a 2-minute video introducing A Spectacle in Motion (on Vimeo).


digital grand panorama website screenshot

Online Digital Version This interactive expands access to the Panorama and supplements the Spectacle in Motion exhibition The Experience at the Museum. While it will work on a phone or tablet it has been optimized for desktop viewing. 


Learn more about the Past Exhibition at Kilburn Mill: A Spectacle in Motion: The Grand Panorama of a Whaling Voyage ‘Round the World – The Original




book cover for Spectacle in motion

Exhibition Catalog

A Spectacle in Motion: The Grand Panorama of a Whaling Voyage ‘Round the World, Vol.1&2
This two-volume publication dives into the detail and narrative of the Panorama and allows people to quite literally hold the entire artwork in the palm of their hands. It documents the historic importance of the American whaling industry, as well as the industry’s global, cultural, social, and industrial impacts and highlights the importance of interpreting, studying, exhibiting, and conserving this one-of-a-kind national treasure.

Purchase online or in the Museum’s gift store The White Whale.


A Spectacle in Motion Supporters*

The William M. Wood Foundation

Title Supporters
The New York Community Trust – Wattles Family
Charitable Trust Fund, Recommended by Gurdon B. Wattles

Platinum Supporters
Ruth & Hope Atkinson
BayCoast Bank
Bristol County Savings Bank
Cynthia & Douglas Crocker II
Carol M. Taylor & John H. Deknatel
Nye Lubricants

Diamond Supporters
Butler’s Hole Fund, Recommended by Rick & Nonnie Burnes
Bess & Jim Hughes

Gold Supporters
Amy & Andy Burnes
The Chardon Family
Faith & Dick Morningstar

Silver Supporters
Bay State Wind
Christine & Eric Cody
Eastern Fisheries
Tally & John Garfield
Island Foundation, Inc.
Joseph Abboud Manufacturing
Mary Myers Kauppila & Keith W. Kauppila
Ladera Foundation
Sharon Lewis – AB Bernstein Private Wealth Management
Tina & Paul Schmid
Sylvia Group

Bronze Supporters 
Jewelle & Nathaniel Bickford
Boston Marine Society
The Castelo Group
Ruth B. Ekstrom
Barbara & Paul J. Ferri
Constance & Stanley Grayson
Randy Harris
Lang, Xifaras & Bullard
Page Building Construction Co.
Anonymous, 2 donors

Pewter Sponsors  
Anchor Capital Advisors LLC
Christina M. & Charles E. Bascom
John & Romayne Bockstoce
Civitects, P.C.
Ann & Richard Connolly
Vanessa & John Gralton
Jessie W. & Llewellyn Howland III
Betsy & Rusty Kellogg
William W. Kenney
Edith R. Lauderdale
Susan & Anthony Morris
Sloan & Wick Simmons
Charles Smiler
Fredi & Howard Stevenson
Ulla & Paul Sullivan
Sigrid & Ladd Thorne
Grace & David A. Wyss
Ann & Hans Ziegler

Major support for the conservation and digitization of the Panorama was provided by the Arcadia Charitable Trust, The Henry P. Kendall Foundation, National Park Service – in cooperation with the staff of the New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park, and the Stockman Family Foundation Trust.

A Spectacle in Motion received significant support from the City of New Bedford; Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism; National Endowment for the Humanities; National Maritime Heritage Grant program, administered by the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, through the Massachusetts Historical Commission; and the Southeastern Massachusetts Visitors Bureau.

*As of August 31, 2018