Moby-Dick Marathon 20th Anniversary

Thursday, January 7 – Sunday, January 10, 2016

Reading Timetable  |  Children’s Mini Marathon  |  Portuguese Adaptation  |  Reader List (pdf)


Herman Melville’s literary masterpiece was celebrated at the 20th Anniversary of the Moby-Dick Marathon. The 25-hour, readathon weekend was complete, with surprise guest readers, costume-clad special guests, theatrical and musical interpretations, and creative activities for everyone.   

Call me Ishmael  The Marathon, one of the world’s best-known readathons, kicked off with bestselling author Nathaniel Philbrick reading the most famous opening line in American literature, “Call me Ishmael.” From the moment those words were uttered to approximately 25 hours later, more than 150 participants had read a short passage from this novel.


Schedule of Events

Downloadable Moby-Dick Marathon 20th Anniversary Program (pdf)

The entire reading was broadcast via audio livestream on the Whaling Museum website, allowing Moby-Dick enthusiasts around the globe to follow along.
The event was followed and shared using twitter handle #mdm20 

Video from 2014 (2016 video clips will be available soon)


Thursday, January 7   
5:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Oásis by Nuno Sá Exhibit Opening Reception & Presentation 
Nuno Sá is Portugal’s most awarded wildlife photographer. Meet the artist and enjoy his illustrated presentation at 7:00 pm.
Jacobs Family Gallery, free and open to the public

Friday, January 8
5:00 pm – 8:30 pm
pre-Marathon Dinner, Lecture and Events

Tickets: $30 Members/$40 Non-Members

Join us the night before the Marathon for our pre-Marathon dinner. Following the dinner, join us for the dedication of the Herman Melville Room with an exhibit opening, followed by a Marathon themed lecture. 

  • Cocktails
  • An “art on the Plaza” Exhibit
  • Moby-Dick-inspired Dinner (with cash bar) 
  • In the Heart of the Sea Exhibition
  • Dedication of the Herman Melville Room
  • Lecture by Arthur Motta titled Moby-Dick: How Hollywood Changed New Bedford”
  • Featured Exhibitors: Tom Watson and Farley Crawford

The Herman Melville Room was dedicated in partnership with the Melville Society Cultural Project (MSCP). To help kick off the Marathon, the exhibition Mapping Ahab’s “Storied Waves”: Whaling and the Geography of Moby-Dick made its debut as well. 


The Marathon Experience

10:00 a.m. Saturday, January 9 – 1:00 p.m. Sunday, January 10

Saturday, January 9

10:00 am – 11:15 am
“Stump the Scholars”

Cook Memorial Theater
Bone up on your Moby-Dick trivia knowledge with the quiz game “Stump the Scholars,” designed to test the expertise of Melville Society members with game show host Michael P. Dyer.

10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Children’s Moby-Dick Mini Marathon
Nye Lubricants Learning Lab
Introducing the Icelandic and New Bedford Ocean Crews as the young Ishmael readers “Ship out” for 2 hours only! Come on board and read a section of an abridged, child-friendly version of Moby-Dick. This is a great way to introduce young readers to a classic while getting them over the jitters of public speaking! Sponsored by the US Department of State.

11:40 am
Reading of Extracts by Melville Society members

Bourne Building

12:00 noon
Moby-Dick Marathon, Chapters 1–6

Bourne Building
Introducing Nathaniel Philbrick as Ishmael
Nathaniel Philbrick is the author of the New York Times bestseller, In the Heart of the Sea, which won the National Book Award for nonfiction. The book is the basis of the Warner Bros. motion picture of the same name, directed by Ron Howard. The book also inspired a 2001 Dateline special on NBC as well as the 2010 2-hour PBS American Experience film Into the Deep by Ric Burns.

Readings will travel to all corners of the museum and will be interspersed with  special episodes including the rousing sermon of Father Mapple read by Rev. David A. Lima, and the singing of ‘The Ribs and Terrors in the Whale’ by the New Bedford Choral Society members. Rumor has it that an ‘excellent hearted Quakeress’ may make a perfectly timed appearance on Saturday afternoon. Culture*Park, a local theater troupe will bring chapter 40, “Forecastle – Midnight,” to life in the theater.

Some excerpts will be read in Japanese, Italian, Danish, Spanish, Hebrew, Russian and/or French, followed by that same passage in English. One passage is read from Braille.


1:20 pm (approx)
Moby-Dick Marathon, Chapters 7–9
Seamen’s Bethel

2:00 pm (approx)
Moby-Dick Marathon, Chapters 10 – 39
Harbor View Gallery

2:30 pm – 3:30 pm
Chat with the Melville Scholars
Braitmayer Family Gallery

3:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Moby-Dick Maratona em Português
By writer and playwright Tiago Patricio
Introducing Pedro Carneiro as Ishmael
Azorean Whaleman Gallery

4:15 pm
Lecture “Mapping Ahab’s Storied Waves: Whaling and the Geography of Moby-Dick”
Herman Melville Room
Michael P. Dyer, curator of the exhibition of the same title, will explain the tools, techniques and resources described by Melville in “The Chart,” Chapter 44 of Moby-Dick, and demonstrate their practical application to real 19th century whalers.

5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Cousin Hosea’s Chowder Hall
Casa dos Botes
Recharge and warm up with New Bedford’s best clam and cod chowder. Chowder provided by Destination Soups, Freestone’s City Grill, Tia Maria’s European Cafe and Whaler’s Tavern.

7:00 pm (approx)
Chapter 40 performed by Culture*Park
Cook Memorial Theater

7:45 pm (approx)
Chapter 41 through Epilogue
Harbor View Gallery


Sunday, January 10

8:00 am – 10:00 am
The 20th-Hour Breakfast Feast

Casa dos Botes
To mark the 20th hour of the 20th anniversary of the marathon, a breakfast feast will be served to steadfast marathoners. Participants can refuel as they head into the last leg of the marathon read.

9:30 am – 11:00 am
Chat with a Melville Scholar
Braitmayer Family Gallery

1:00 pm (approx)
20th Moby-Dick Marathon concludes
The few hardy souls that brave the voyage and stay awake until the Marathon’s end will be richly rewarded.  


Featured Exhibitor: Enjoy 100 Days on Moby-Dick. Selections of Ms. Crawford’s work was on display in the Harbor View Gallery.


Johnny Cake Hill  /  metered spots downtown  Elm Street Garage /  Zeiterion Garage

Banner Credit: Detail of Moby Dick Mural preliminary sketch by Richard Ellis. NBWM2011.92.20.


Event sponsored by:


Allan Smith CPA


Empire Loan logo


logo for pidalia


Chowder sponsored by:
Chowder provided by Destination Soups, Freestone’s City Grill, Tia Maria’s European Cafe and Whaler’s Tavern.



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