Moby-Dick Marathon 2024 - New Bedford Whaling Museum

Moby-Dick Marathon 2024


From January 5 - 7, 2024, the New Bedford Whaling Museum will host one of the world’s best known readings of Herman Melville’s iconic American novel, Moby-Dick. 

The Moby-Dick Marathon features the main 25-hour read-a-thon from Saturday to Sunday, interspersed with fun Melville-inspired activities, including opportunities to chat with the scholars from the Melville Society Cultural Project (MSCP), a live performance of Chapter 40 by Culture*Park, and much more.

The New Bedford 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.

Are you ready to join us on the hunt for the elusive white whale?  Museum admission is free for the weekend (Saturday & Sunday).




"Or, The Whale" by Jos Sances: An Ark That Includes us All 

5:00 pm Cocktail Reception & Dinner
6:30 pm Lecture

Kick off this year’s Moby-Dick Marathon with a delicious dinner in our Harbor View Gallery, followed by a captivating lecture, featuring master printer Jos Sances, and Melville Scholar Jeff Peterson, Ph.D. DINNER & LECTURE EVENT IS SOLD OUT!

All of the following events, scheduled on Saturday and Sunday, are free to attend and are open to the general public. 



9:30 am Stump the Scholars
Cook Memorial Theater (Lobby)
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!

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.

10:00 am The Little Whalers’ Story Time, Craft-making & Scavenger Hunt with the New Bedford Free Public Library
Classroom 1 / Science Classroom (Main Level)
Calling all kiddos! Join us for an hour of story time and craft activities, led by staff from the New Bedford Free Public Library, with support from museum Apprentices, then go on your own exciting whale scavenger hunt! Prizes available upon completion.

11:30 am Extracts
A Whaling Voyage Around the World / Bourne Building (Main Level)
Read by members of the Melville Society Cultural Project.

12 Noon "Call me Ishmael", the Main Attraction
A Whaling Voyage Around the World / Bourne Building (Main Level)
With the strike of eight bells, the Moby-Dick Marathon begins with those three famous opening words..."Call Me Ishmael."

1:30 pm Father Mapple’s Sermon
Seamen’s Bethel (Reserved seating at Bethel. Livestream at the museum in the Harbor View Gallery)
Sign-up closed on December 14. Winners will be notified by December 22.

1:30 pm Portuguese Mini-Marathon (PMDM)
Cook Memorial Theater (Lobby)
Dozens of participants at the museum join together with readers in mainland Portugal, the Azores, Madeira Islands, and Cape Verde Islands to read the shortened adaptation of Moby-Dick created by Tiago Patricio in Portuguese. Remarks at 1:45pm, reading is 2:00-6:00pm.

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

2:30 pm Chat with Melville Scholars
Research Library (Main Level)
Exclusive access to Melville Scholars to ask them anything and everything Melville!

3:00 pm Make Your Mark
Classroom 2 (ML)
Take a creative pause and craft a personalized bookmark to help keep your place throughout the overnight section of the Marathon.

3:45 to 5:45 pm Screen Printing Demonstration with Jos Sances
Science Classroom (Main Level)
Drop in to see master printmaker Jos Sances demonstrate the printing of the portrait of Melville (pictured on this page), which he created especially for the Moby-Dick Marathon.

6:30 pm Cousin Hosea’s Chowder Hall and the Decanter Taproom
Jacobs Family Gallery (Lower Level)
Recharge and warm up with Chowder donated by Blount Fine Foods. Blount Clam Shack Food Truck will be on site selling addition seafood on Saturday evening and Sunday for lunch.

8:00 pm Midnight on the Forecastle (chapter 40)
Cook Memorial Theater (Lobby)
Performed by Culture*Park.


8:00 am The 20th-Hour Treat
Jacobs Family Gallery (Lower Level)
Get fueled up for the home stretch.

9:30 am Chat with Melville scholars
Research Library (Main Level)
Exclusive access to Melville Scholars to ask them anything and everything Melville!

10:30 am Imagining Melville, Podcast with Unburied Books
Cook Memorial Theater (L)
Unburied Books is a podcast reading through the NYRB Classics, a series devoted to little-known works and new translations. In this live episode recording, we will discuss Jean Giono's Melville with Wyn Kelley and Timothy Marr of the Melville Society Cultural Project. Originally published to promote his 1941 French translation of Moby-Dick, Giono's book – part biography, part fantasy, and part philosophical rumination – is an homage from one great writer to another. Kelley’s and Marr's passion and expertise will lend richness to our investigation of Melville and the man who inspired it.

1:00 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.

Portrait of Melville by Jos Sances
Portrait of Melville by Jos Sances

“It is not down in any map; true places never are.”
- Moby-Dick

The Moby-Dick Marathon is made possible with the support of the following sponsors:

AHAB Sponsor

Melville Sponsor

Allan Smith & Company, CPAs PC

Bank Five

BayCoast Bank

Deme Offshore US, LLC 

Fiber Optic Center

Sylvia Group
An Alera Group Company

Taunton Federal Credit Union

Whaler’s Crew

Clean Uniforms and More

Empire Loan Charitable Foundation 

Littoral Power Systems, Inc. 


Jose S. Castelo Real Estate, Inc.

In-Kind Donor

Blount Seafood Food Truck

In-Kind Donor

Chase Canopy Inc.