August 2, 2017
New Bedford Whaling Museum to receive two grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities
Grants to fund Moby-Dick Teachers’ Institute and travel an exhibit on the longest painting in the U.S.
New Bedford, Mass. – Two recent grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) will support New Bedford Whaling Museum (NBWM) projects with national scope. A $136,342 grant from the NEH Division of Education Programs will fund a two-week “Summer Institute for Teachers” in 2018 that will illuminate the art and contexts of Herman Melville’s famous 19th century American novel Moby-Dick, and help teachers interpret the book for 21st century students. The NEH Division of Public Programs has awarded a $40,000 Exhibition Planning Grant to the Museum to support the development of a traveling exhibition based on one of the gems in the Museum’s collection, the Grand Panorama of a Whaling Voyage ‘Round the World. Completed in 1848, the 1,275’ panorama is the longest painting in the United States and is currently undergoing conservation at NBWM.
During the “Summer Institute for Teachers,” 25 teachers from around the nation will encounter the rich worlds of Moby-Dick, and gain a better understanding of Melville’s literary power and how to interpret the book’s wonders for their students. Six Melville scholars who comprise the Melville Society Cultural Project will serve as principal faculty of the Institute: Jennifer Baker (New York University), Mary K. Bercaw Edwards (University of Connecticut), Wyn Kelley (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Chris Sten (George Washington University), Robert K. Wallace (Northern Kentucky University), with Timothy Marr (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) serving as the Institute director.
“Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick is one of the most frequently referenced and adapted American novels, and it is becoming more popular and relevant with time. While the book is a classic, and of particular interest to our region, it grapples with current-day issues like globalism, multiculturalism, political power, and environmentalism,” said Carol Taylor, Chair of New Bedford Whaling Museum’s Board of Trustees. “The Whaling Museum is grateful for this NEH grant, with which we will launch an institute where Melville Scholars will teach educators how to use the text to engender thoughtful classroom conversation on these larger concepts.”
The Grand Panorama is an authentic and arresting depiction of a 19th century whaling voyage, containing content related to history, industry, and geography. The painting conveys themes of globalization, cultural diversity, popular literature, and visual culture. Painted by Benjamin Russell and Caleb Purrington of New Bedford, the Panorama travelled the United States between the 1850s and 1870s as a moving picture show. It has not been shown in its entirety, or as it was originally intended, since the 1870s. The NEH grant will support the development of a traveling exhibition titled “A Spectacle in Motion: The Grand Panorama of a Whaling Voyage ‘Round the World,” which will debut in New Bedford, Massachusetts in 2018, and then travel to Mystic, Connecticut in late 2018.
“The New Bedford Whaling Museum is conserving a piece of maritime artwork of national historical importance – the Grand Panorama of a Whaling Voyage ‘Round the World. The 1848 painting weaves factual depictions of the business of whaling, whaling lore, and first-hand ethnographic and naturalistic observation into the narrative structure of a single whaling voyage,” said Carol Taylor, Chair of the New Bedford Whaling Museum’s Board of Trustees. “We are honored to receive this grant from NEH, which will give people across the region the chance to experience this national treasure.”
“NEH grants ensure that Americans around the country have the opportunity to engage with our shared cultural heritage,” said NEH Acting Chairman Jon Parrish Peede. “From traveling exhibitions and teacher workshops to efforts to preserve local history, these projects demonstrate the power of the humanities to build connections, stimulate discovery, and contribute to vibrant communities.”
About the National Endowment for the Humanities
Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at: www.neh.gov . Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this news release do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
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ABOVE: A scene from the 1,275’ Purrington-Russell Grand Panorama of a Whaling Voyage Round the World. The panorama, which is longer than the Empire State Building is tall, is being conserved at the Whaling Museum and will be the subject of a traveling exhibition in 2018. Planning for the new exhibition will be funded in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities Division of Public Programs.
ABOVE: Melville Society Cultural Project Board Member Jennifer Baker (far right) led a 2016 workshop at the Whaling Museum. Participants are seen through the jaws of a sperm whale. The Melville Society is dedicated to the study and appreciation of the nineteenth-century American author Herman Melville. The Whaling Museum is the home of the Melville Society Cultural Project and Melville Society Archive. A grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities Division of Education Programs will help fund a two-week Melville summer institute for teachers in 2018.
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.; January through March, Tuesday – Saturday 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. Closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Admission is free for Museum members and children aged three and under; adults $17, seniors (65+) $15, students (19+) $10, child and youth $7. For more information visit www.whalingmuseum.org.