Lagoda – World’s largest ship model & its “brick berth” mark 100 years in 2016
New Bedford Whaling Museum

For high-res images contact Gayle Hargreaves

NEW BEDFORD, Mass – The story of the world’s largest ship model and her “brick berth” involves a businessman’s fortune, a fabled ship, a determined daughter and philanthropist, and a labor of love. Lagoda, a half-scale model of a 19th century whaleship, sails into her second century this year as the New Bedford Whaling Museum’s signature exhibit and a unique learning tool.  Ensconced within the equally impressive Jonathan Bourne Whaling Museum building (Bourne Building), the world’s largest ship model and its story are no less remarkable today than in 1916 when the Lagoda was dedicated. The New Bedford Whaling Museum is marking the 100th anniversary all year with lectures, tours, presentations and family programming, supported by the National Park Service: Maritime Heritage Program, and Kenneth T. and Mildred S. Gammons Charitable Foundation. On Saturday, August 6 the Museum hosts the Lagoda Centennial Gala, supported by BayCoast Bank and Bristol County Savings Bank.

The original whaling vessel Lagoda, purchased by Jonathan Bourne of New Bedford in 1841, was one of the most profitable whaleships in Bourne’s fleet.  In 1916 Jonathan’s daughter Emily Bourne (1835-1922) donated funds to build the Jonathan Bourne Whaling Museum building on Johnny Cake Hill, as well as the half-scale model of the Lagoda, in memory of her father.  The unprecedented building project was under the able supervision of Edgar B. Hammond (1853-1937). A prominent local architect, builder and five-term commodore of the New Bedford Yacht Club, Hammond threw himself into the project, researching every aspect of the work.  At 89 feet long, it was at the time and remains today, the largest ship model in the world. The Lagoda and the Bourne Building form the heart of the New Bedford Whaling Museum.

Even after a century of life, the Lagoda never fails to inspire awe upon entering the space. The model is the largest interactive exhibit of its kind in the region, and arguably the first in a museum in the United States. Over the past 100 years, it has become a rite of passage for millions of children to grasp the wheel and steer, as whaleship helmsmen did in the 19th century. Countless feet have walked her decks, so many that the wood wore thin and had to be replaced. She withstood near disaster in the 1970s when a third of the city block was devastated by a gas explosion. The explosion drove shards of glass into her canvas sails, damage that was revealed when these were replaced in 2010 as part of a restoration project, undertaken in anticipation of the 100th anniversary. Thanks in part to major grants from the National Park Service, the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund, and many generous donations through the 'Navigating the World' capital campaign, the Lagoda and the Bourne building are secure for another generation.  The New Bedford Whaling Museum invites everyone to celebrate the exhibit’s second century of service by attending events and programs befitting the grand old ship.

This summer:

Curator Talks and Tours
July 2016
Tuesdays and Thursdays – 2 p.m.
Join a Curator for special Lagoda-themed talks and tours. Tours are free with admission to the Museum and leave from the front desk.

For families: All Aboard the Lagoda
Fridays, July 8 – August 26
10 a.m.
Dress as your favorite crewmember and take an imaginary whaling voyage on the Lagoda! Experience the chase, learn the ropes, encounter foreign cultures and learn about whaling in New Bedford through role-playing.

Lagoda Centennial Gala
Saturday, August 6
6:30–9:30 p.m.
A grand celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Whaling Museum’s beloved Lagoda ship model, with live performances, cuisine and cocktails inspired by the whale ship Lagoda’s voyages to all “Seven Seas.” The gala evening includes a silent auction featuring an original painting by New Bedford artist Arthur Moniz, created in commemoration of the Lagoda Centennial. Moniz’s painting exquisitely encapsulates the true majesty of the Lagoda inside the grand edifice of the Bourne Building, where she was masterfully built a century ago, like a “ship in a bottle.” Catering for the evening will be provided by Russell Morin Fine Catering. Individual tickets are $250. To reserve visit or call (508) 997-0046 ext. 116. The Lagoda Centennial Gala is supported by BayCoast Bank and Bristol County Savings Bank.


Contact: Gayle Hargreaves
Director of Marketing
New Bedford Whaling Museum
508-997-0046 Ext. 139 (office)


About the New Bedford Whaling Museum
The New Bedford Whaling Museum is the world's most comprehensive museum devoted to the global story of human interaction with whales through time, and the history and culture of the South Coast region. The cornerstone of New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park, the Museum is located at 18 Johnny Cake Hill in the heart of the city's historic downtown. Museum hours April through December: Daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Museum is open until 8 p.m. every second Thursday of the month. Closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.  Admission is: Free for Museum members and children aged three and under; adults $16, seniors (65+) $14, students (19+) $9, child and youth $6For more information, visit