Whaling Museum opens new family interactive zone on Sunday, May 22

Casa dos Botes Discovery Center
Gift of William M. Wood III
Children under 12 free all day

PHOTO OPPORTUNITY: The Casa dos Botes Discovery Center will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on May 22. The best time to photograph people inside the space will be between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. – Casa dos Botes Discovery Center, a 3,000-square foot family- interactive zone, opens to the public on Sunday, May 22 at the New Bedford Whaling Museum. The Discovery Center promotes exploration and learning through a variety of maritime-themed activities that highlight life at sea. Casa dos Botes, Portuguese for “boat house,” honors the legacy and heritage of the Portuguese Community, and is dedicated in honor of William M. Wood, III. Free admission for children under 12 on May 22.  The Discovery Center will be staffed daily, with special programs and activities throughout the year.  A custom-made Azorean tiled plaque adorns the entrance.

The Casa dos Botes Discovery Center is located on the site where the first authentic Azorean whaleboats built in the US were constructed by members of New Bedford’s Azorean community in 1997.  Many of these people were descendants of whalers, and because whaling continued long into the 20th century around the islands of the Azores, they knew intimately the trials and perils of this dangerous pursuit. This proud heritage shapes the exhibits and displays in the Discovery Center.

The eight major stations and numerous ancillary elements that fill the Discovery Center allow visitors to experience activities that both Yankee and Azorean whalemen performed. An important element of the space is a re-creation of a fo’c’sle, which is the bow section of a whaleship. Already proven popular with Museum visitors, the fo’c’sle includes the crew’s below-deck living quarters, galley, and upper deck machinery. An authentic Azorean whaleboat allows visitors to play-act a whale chase and simulate rowing. A Navigation Station teaches latitude and longitude to help children learn to sail a whaleship. A Crow’s Nest allows children to simulate the thrill of spotting whales and alerting their crewmates, while a cask lifting exercise tests children’s ability to operate a simple machine. Children can also learn to furl sails and steer a boat through rough weather. Each interactive is designed to include science, math, engineering, and communications concepts and to develop critical skills.

“The Trustees’ stated two primary reasons for opening the Discovery Center. Firstly, we want to provide a hands-on space for families to interact and learn together.  Secondly we want to engage K-8 school groups with interactive content designed to develop critical skills,” states James Russell, President of the Whaling Museum.

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About the New Bedford Whaling Museum
The New Bedford Whaling Museum is the world's most comprehensive museum devoted to the global story of whales 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 and is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.  For more information, visit www.whalingmuseum.org.