A Spectacle in Motion: The Grand Panorama of a Whaling Voyage ‘Round the World

The Experience text graphic

Exhibition at the Whaling Museum

Opens July 29
Free for members and included with
regular Museum admission

Spectacle in Motion Gala graphic

While the Museum exhibits America’s longest painting at the Kilburn Mill, visitors will be able to stand on the bow of the world’s largest model whaleship, the Lagoda, and watch the Panorama scroll by in a life-sized digital format projected in a full theatrical setting, and experience what Benjamin Russell and other whalers saw as they left the port of New Bedford and traveled the sea in search of whales.

As the Panorama was being conserved, it was photographed at high resolution and now there is a fully digitized recreation of the entire painting for the first time in history. To re-create the original Panorama, the exhibition will feature the digital version of the life-sized Panorama projected to simulate the 19th-century experience on a theatrical stage (similar to the concept on the cover of Museum’s Summer Bulletin and the stage graphic above). The stage set is based on drawings and prints from the period and will be installed off the Lagoda’s bow so visitors can experience the performance from the deck, from theater seating on the floor level, or from vantage points to the port and starboard of the iconic whaleship. As the original score and narrative have been lost over time, they will be recreated and remastered for the new installation, and will include new research and points of interest.

Visitors will be able to dive deeper into the specifics of the Panorama story on a large, touch-screen, interactive kiosk. The kiosk will have thematic tabs on various subjects, including a map of the voyage, related Museum artifacts and paintings, and the Panorama’s conservation history. You will be able to zoom in close to any scene or detail that interests you and get rich context for each section.

Enhancing the experience, artifacts from the Museum’s permanent Collections will further illustrate Russell’s own global travels and connect locations represented in the Panorama with relevant ethnographic material and objects. Exhibitions that tell the stories of Yankee Whaling, the connections with the Azores and Cabo Verde, as well as the many stories told in the existing Whaling Voyage ‘Round the World exhibition will help amplify the content of the Panorama. The Panorama in the context of its own time – the era of the “public spectacle” will be explored in the exhibition, and it will include complementing pieces from the Museum’s permanent Collection.


Support A Spectacle in Motion

Many long-time members recall the thrill of seeing sections of the Panorama hanging in the Museum decades ago. Now, thanks to a remarkable anonymous challenge gift from a Museum friend, our membership can fully participate in showcasing the entire Panorama for the first time in many years.

Your gift will support the Museum’s ability to provide free access to the original Panorama for all audiences, so that new generations can learn about and appreciate the rich history of our region. Students from throughout the area will visit the original Panorama this summer and fall, an awe-inspiring experience that will surely resonate with them for the rest of their lives. For local residents, the Panorama will increase civic pride and create new cultural stewards of our global legacy. For visitors and tourists, it will raise the SouthCoast’s profile as an up-and-coming arts and culture destination.

How to donate:
Contact Sarah Budlong, Director of Development


Donors of $1,000 or more to the Panorama project will be recognized as supporters on all donor lists and exhibition collateral. Donors of $100 or more will be recognized in the 2018 Annual Report.

Your gift will be matched 1:1, up to $25,000, through July 14.
We hope you become a partner in this historic endeavor.