The Art of the Ship Model

Exhibition Dates: March 1, 2013  –  March 2015

Guest curator R. Michael Wall, a leading expert on ship models from the American Marine Model Gallery of Gloucester, Massachusetts, and former curator Judith Lund, explored the Mu­seum’s great scope of models and invited viewers to understand these works as a genuine decorative art form.  Most models on exhibit had been selected from both the Old Dartmouth Historical Society and the Kendall Whaling Museum collections, while some were acquired on loan.

This model depicts a scene from Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick

Many have long considered marine models a legitimate form of decorative art, and the recent recognition of modelers as professional artists has significantly increased appreciation.  Works by notable professionals such as Erik Ronnberg Jr., Michael Costagliola, Roger Ham­bidge, and others exemplify the creative aspect behind ship models reflecting original research and high quality construction methods.

This exhibition explored various ways to look at ship models from the artistic per­spective acknowl­edged and distinguished by some of the world’s foremost museums.  Additionally, the exhibit dis­cussed construction of some of the models and their creative pre­sentation.

Models selected carefully depicted ensembles of New Bedford area yachting, Ameri­can whaleboats, vintage half hulls, ethnological northwest (Arctic) small craft, and whaling vessels from the age of sail to modern catcher boats.  Additionally, the exhibition  highlighted the importance of ship models to our maritime heritage and informed everybody to participate as stewards of this exceptional art form.

View a slideshow from the Sailors’ Series lecture presented February 28, 2013 titled The Art of Ship Models: Collections of the Past, Present and Future with R. Michael Wall, Owner of the American Marine Model Gallery. (The lecture is also on YouTube.)


This exhibition was sponsored by the Kenneth T. & Mildred S. Gammons Foundation

Last modified: December 11, 2018