New Bedford Whaling Museum, New Bedford

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Specialty Museum · Museum
The New Bedford Whaling Museum is a museum in New Bedford, Massachusetts, United States that focuses on the history, science, art, and culture of the international whaling industry, and the "Old Dartmouth" region (now the city of New Bedford and towns of Acushnet, Dartmouth, Fairhaven, and Westport) in the South Coast of Massachusetts. The museum is governed by the Old Dartmouth Historical Society (ODHS), which was established in 1903 "to create and foster an interest in the history of Old Dartmouth." Since then, the museum has expanded its scope to include programming that addresses global issues "including the consequences of natural resource exhaustion, the diversification of industry, and tolerance in a multicultural society." Its collections include over 750,000 items, including 3,000 pieces of scrimshaw and 2,500 logbooks from whaling ships, both of which are the largest collections in the world, as well as five complete whale skeletons. The museum's complex consists of several contiguous buildings housing 20 exhibit galleries and occupying an entire city block within the New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park, although operated independently.
The museum also houses a collection of fine art, including works by major American artists who lived or worked in the New Bedford area, such as Albert Bierstadt, William Bradford, and Albert Pinkham Ryder, as well as a collection of locally produced decorative art, glassware, and furniture associated with the rise of New Bedford as a whaling port in the 19th century.

The museum's Bourne Building houses the Lagoda, a half-scale model of a whaling ship that was commissioned in 1916 and is the world's largest model whaling ship.

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New Bedford Whaling Museum reviews

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833 reviews
  • Far exceeded my expectations. Great mix of Local history and the importance of whaling, world wide whaling industry culture and impact, ocean ecology, as well as fabulous artwork exhibits including...  more »
  • Fantastic museum! We were supposed to be on a whale watching cruise but it got canceled due to weather. I quickly check out our options (we were staying in Cape Cod) and decided to go to the...  more »
  • Lovely gem of a museum in downtown New Bedford. Lots of historical items related to the area and it's long history in the fishing and the old whaling industry. The most unexpected piece was the full size ship inside. It's not actually the full size of the actual sailing ship but it takes up a huge room and you get to wander all over it and see the details of an actual whaling ship. Very cool trip for kids and adults alike!
  • This charming museum has been a favorite with our family for 3 generations. So much local history showcased in a way that it appeals to all ages. Wonderful exhibits sprinkled with things the kids can crawl through (a giant heart), climb on (a ship's model) and touch. A fun afternoon for the entire family

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