New Bedford Whaling Museum Resurrects America’s Longest Painting

Grand Panorama of a Whaling Voyage on view in its entirety for the first time in generations

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. – America’s longest painting will be exhibited by the New Bedford Whaling Museum. In 2017, the Museum completed the conservation of the 1,275-foot-long Grand Panorama of a Whaling Voyage ‘Round the World, painted in 1848. This summer, the public will be reintroduced to the newly restored painting through two exhibitions: “A Spectacle in Motion: The Original” and “A Spectacle in Motion: The Experience.” Each exhibition will honor different aspects of the artwork.

In an era before the age of cinema, the Panorama traveled the country as a “moving” panorama. It was how curious people without the means or inclination to travel were transported to exotic locales in the 1800s. The Panorama was a performance spectacle, scrolling on giant spools with accompanying theatrics and narration. Although the painting will not be shown again as a moving panorama, which would undo the extensive conservation efforts, the Museum will exhibit the painting in its entirety for a fully immersive experience. “The Original” runs July 14 through October 8 and features the enormous painting at the historic Kilburn Mill in New Bedford. This exhibition will be free and open to the public.

The second exhibition, “The Experience,” will feature a digital reproduction of the artwork as a theatrical moving picture show, similar to what audiences would have experienced in the 1850s. This exhibition opens July 29 and will run through 2021 at the Whaling Museum.

“Seeing the Panorama in its entirety as a work of art, as well as experiencing it in motion, will be one of the most singular and spectacular American folk art milestones of this era,” said Dr. Christina Connett, Whaling Museum Chief Curator. “It is an artwork of national historical importance and a keystone that defines our region’s role in maritime heritage.”

Museum experts have also produced a two-volume publication that 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.


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 of Massachusetts. For more information, visit


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Media Contact:

Tina Malott, Director Marketing and Public Relations, New Bedford Whaling Museum