Whaling Museum’s Annual Moby-Dick Marathon Coming Soon

A celebration of all things Moby-Dick and Melville – January 4-6, 2019

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. – One of the world’s best known live readings of Herman Melville’s iconic American novel Moby-Dick returns to the New Bedford Whaling Museum on January 4 through 6, 2019. The 23rd annual Moby-Dick Marathon will draw readers and enthusiasts from around the globe to the Museum’s campus and to the livestream reading online. Obsessive literary aficionados, local school children, and everyone in between will travel back in time to accompany narrator, Ishmael, on the epic whaling journey and hunt for the elusive white whale. The event is free and open to the public. Full details are available at www.whalingmuseum.org.

The Whaling Museum has marked the anniversary of Melville’s 1841 departure from the Port of New Bedford and Fairhaven aboard the whaleship, Acushnet, with this mid-winter tradition since 1997. Melville would later pen Moby-Dick, publishing the famous novel in 1851. Moby-Dick Marathon weekend features the main 25-hour readathon – fueled by caffeine, warm local soups, theatrical performances, and a fondness for the author’s artistry – as well as two mini-marathons on January 5: a Portuguese-language reading of Tiago Patricio’s abridged Moby-Dick; and a children’s version by Classic Starts.

Activities begin on Friday, January 4 at 5:30 p.m. with a dinner well-suited for hungry sailors and an illustrated discussion with Melville Scholar Jennifer Baker, New York University, titled “Gender and the Man’s World of Moby-Dick.” Tickets for Friday evening’s dinner and discussion are $40 for Museum members and $50 for non-members. To reserve call (508) 997-0046 x 100 or visit whalingmuseum.org.

The event begins with readers and audience members nestled alongside the world’s largest whaleship model – the Lagoda. Marathoners sit amongst the sails, lines, and whaling tools of the time while experiencing the first chapters. The reading will move through multiple settings in the Museum, as well as the Seamen’s Bethel, made famous by Melville in Moby-Dick as the “Whalemen’s Chapel.” Chapter 7, The Chapel, is read, appropriately, at the Seamen’s Bethel where Melville attended a service shortly before he shipped out.

The remainder of the book is read non-stop in a gallery with 180-degree views of the fishing fleet and other vessels lining New Bedford Harbor. The only exception will be Chapter 40, Midnight Forecastle, which will be performed as a theatrical interpretation in the Museum’s Theater by Culture*Park.

The entire marathon is peppered with fun Melville-inspired activities, including opportunities to chat with scholars from the Melville Society Cultural Project (MSCP) and even a chance to “stump” the scholars by testing their Melville knowledge. The Whaling Museum, in collaboration with The Melville Society, is the established home of the MSCP and the Melville Society Archive, which is housed in the Museum's Research Library. The archive constitutes one of the best collections of Melville scholarship and resources anywhere in the world.

The few hardy souls who brave the voyage by staying awake through all 136 chapters of the great American epic will receive a prize when the marathon comes to an end on Sunday.

All Saturday and Sunday events are free and open to the public. Guests may come and go as needed through the Museum’s main entrance.

The entire marathon will be livestreamed on YouTube and shown non-stop in the Museum’s theater during the reading. Visit www.whalingmuseum.org for more information.


Tina Malott
Director of Marketing & Public Relations
New Bedford Whaling Museum
508-997-0046 Ext. 140


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: January through March, Tuesday – Saturday, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.; 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 $17, seniors (65+) $15, students (19+) $10, child and youth $7. For more information, visit www.whalingmuseum.org.

Contact Tina Malott
508-997-0046 Ext. 140


MDM23 family reading on Lagoda

A family reads and listens together on board Lagoda during 2018 Moby-Dick Marathon at the New Bedford Whaling Museum.


Melville scholars

Scholars from the Melville Society Cultural Project wait in line to read from the Extracts chapter of Moby-Dick in 2018. (L-R: Wyn Kelley, Chris Sten; Jennifer Baker; Mary K. Bercaw Edwards, Timothy Marr.


Clif Rice in Bethel

Clif Rice (standing at left) and Rev. David Lima portraying Father Mapple from Moby-Dick, reading in the Seamen’s Bethel during 2018 Moby-Dick Marathon.