Moby-Dick Marathon 2023 - New Bedford Whaling Museum

Moby-Dick Marathon 2023
january 6 -  january 8, 2023
In-person | Live-Streamed

Join us as we gather in the Whaling Museum for the 27th anniversary of the annual readathon of America’s most iconic novel, Moby-Dick. An experience you don’t want to miss, you’ll relive the famous, action-packed narrative and transport back in time on the search for the elusive white whale. Additional programs will take place throughout the weekend and we will be streaming the reading the entire weekend for those that can’t join us in-person.

Schedule of Events

Exhibition Viewing: Moby Dick in Days of Pestilence and Chaos

by Aileen Callahan
(Upper Level Galleries)
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and working through the 2020 lockdown, Boston-based artist Aileen Callahan created Moby Dick in Days of Pestilence and Chaos. This body of work explores themes of contagion and plague, and the known, the unseen, and the feared, as described by author Herman Melville (1819-1891) in the novel Moby-Dick (1851). How much time must pass before infection and chaos take hold—of a crew? —of a society? – and how do such questions apply to today?

Friday, January 6

Moby-Dick Marathon Kick-Off Lecture & Dinner with Aileen Callahan

5:00 p.m. Cocktail Hour
6:00 p.m. Dinner
7:00 p.m. Lecture

Kick off this year’s Moby-Dick Marathon by enjoying a meal well-suited for hungry sailors and a lively presentation by Aileen Callahan, esteemed local artist and professor.  The talk, titled “Seeing Twice,” will explore aspects of visual perception and art elements that artists encounter when working with Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick. Aileen will further discuss powerful themes and connections that relate to the novel and to the exhibition, Moby-Dick in Days of Pestilence and Chaos. Limited seating available. Must purchase tickets by December 30.

Tickets - Advance Purchase Required
Purchase Tickets HERE
Members $65
Non-Members: $75

Saturday, January 7

Toward the Sea Short Concerts

(Throughout the Day)

“As everyone knows, meditation and water are wedded forever.” Herman Melville, Moby Dick
As you wander through the museum halls, hear the sounds of Moby-Dick bounce off of the walls through Japanese Composer Tōru Takemitsu’s Toward the Sea musical work! The piece, commissioned by Greenpeace for the Save the Whales campaign, will be played by Boston Conservatory at Berklee’s Graduate students Jessica Lynch and Eric Puente. Feel and sense the meditative mood that the movements - The Night, Moby-Dick, and Cape Cod - aim to provoke, and envision how they relate to the novel. Performances will be scattered throughout the marathon weekend.


From 9:30 am Saturday to 1 pm 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.

9:30 am Stump the Scholars
Cook Memorial Theater (Lower Level)
Put your knowledge to the test and ask a burning question to the Melville Scholars in this fun and lively program for the chance to earn a “I stumped the Scholars!” pin.
Have you ever puzzled over Queequeg’s actual island home? Was it Melville or Ishmael who compared whales to books? Have a similar question? We want to hear from you! Submit a question(s) for a chance to watch the Melville Scholars discuss and deliberate over your question and see firsthand the outcome.  This program is a playful give and take between the questioner and two teams of Melville experts. Questions from Melville’s novels, art, poetry, and short stories are welcomed and up for exploration.  If your question is accepted, you will be notified in advance to the program.

Submit your question HERE!

10 am The Little Whalers’ Story Time & Scavenger Hunt with the New Bedford Free Public Library
Science Classroom (Main Level)
Calling all kiddos! Come aboard and experience the journey of Moby-Dick as you listen to a children’s version of the novel and go on an exciting scavenger hunt! Then, bunker down and treat yourself to a delicious snack and win prizes as you find all the hidden whales throughout the museum.

11:30 am Extracts
Bourne Building (Main Level)
Read by members of the Melville Society Cultural Project.

12 Noon The Main Attraction
Bourne Building (Main Level)

1:30 pm Father Mapple’s Sermon
Seamen’s Bethel (Reserved seating at Bethel and livestream in Cook Memorial Theater)

2:15 pm Main Marathon Continues
Harbor View Gallery (Upper Level)

2:30 pm Chat with Melville Scholars
Dr. Roderick H. Turner Gallery (Main Level)
Exclusive access to Melville Scholars to ask them anything and everything Melville!

3 pm Portuguese Marathon
Bourne Building (Main Level)

3:30 pm Curator Tour
San Francisco Room & Upper Level Galleries (Upper Level)
Explore and connect with the museum’s latest exhibition, Moby-Dick in Days of Pestilence and Chaos, with Chief Curator Naomi Slipp.

4:00pm Artist Tour
San Francisco Room & Upper Level Galleries (Upper Level)
Explore and connect with the museum’s latest exhibition, Moby-Dick in Days of Pestilence and Chaos, with exhibition and Boston-based artist Aileen Callahan.

5 pm – 9 pm Cousin Hosea’s Chowder Hall and the Decanter Taproom
Jacobs Family Gallery (Lower Level)
Recharge and warm up with New Bedford’s best soups and brews.

7 pm Midnight on the Forecastle (chapter 40)
Cook Memorial Theater (Lower Level)
Performed by  Culture*Park.

Sunday, January 8

8 am The 20th-Hour Treat
Classroom (Main Level)
Get fueled up for the home stretch.

9:30 am Chat with Melville scholars
Dr. Roderick H. Turner Gallery (Main Level)
Exclusive access to Melville Scholars to ask them anything and everything Melville!

1 pm Epilogue
Harbor View Gallery (Upper Level)
Prizes for the hearty souls that make it through the entire night.

*Times are approximate and are dependent on the reading pace of the Marathon.

Moby-Dick Marathon is proudly sponsored by:


Melville Sponsor


Whaler’s Crew