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10 Reasons to Visit the New Bedford Whaling Museum


1. Take a Guided or Audio Tour

The museum offers a few ways to explore and discover your way around, regardless whether you have come alone or in a group. Group tours of ten or more are offered at a discount rate and school group tours are encouraged.

Each piece you come across in the museum will evoke many questions, and you may not want to wander around on your own. For this reason docent led tours are offered. The trained docent tours are subject to availability, are 60-90 minutes long and can include one or more topics of your choice. If you would prefer to go at your own pace, but still want your questions answered, 3 audio tours are available.

  1. The Lagoda/Bourne Building tour includes the world’s largest ship model, The Lagoda. Interact with the ship model as you learn about its important role in New Bedford’s history and whaling.
  2. The Azorean Whaleman Gallery tour will fill you in on New Bedford’s connection with the Azores as a port for whaling ships. Browse the artwork, letters and documents.
  3. The Jacobs Family Gallery tour will tell you all about the famous whale skeletons and Herman Melville’s description of them through commentary by the members of the Melville Society.

These tours are free (included with admission) and are currently only available in English. Other languages are planned for the future.

2. Rental: Wedding Receptions, Meetings and Events
With eight locations to choose from, the Museum offers quite the selection for wedding receptions, corporate or business meetings, fundraisers, dinner events or other function. Outdoor and indoor locations, intimate or large, scenic and panoramic – whatever you are looking for, the museum offers it. Have your function complemented by 18th century homes, cobblestone streets, historic works of art, or local history in one of America’s national historic parks. For more info go to Whaling Museum Rentals.

3. Go Shopping!
After you enjoy a tour through the various museum exhibitions, you’ll want to grab a memento of your visit or a gift for that special someone. There are hundreds of items to choose from. Jewelry, puzzles, dolls, shirts, games, office desk items, holiday ornaments, and educational items for teachers. Also available are CDs, DVD, and books covering sailing, New Bedford’s history, Lincoln Park, whaling, Herman Melville and more. There are even edibles like American Heritage chocolate and maple syrup!

If you fall in love with the artwork you discover, take a reproduction home as they are available through “Prints on Demand.” These are very high quality reproductions of the museum’s exclusive collection are surprisingly inexpensive and come in fours sizes and prices. They can also be purchased online at 1000 Museums New Bedford Whaling Museum Prints.

4. Scrimshaw Weekend
On May 11-13 the Whaling Museum, the scrimshaw capital of the world, will host its 23rd Annual Scrimshaw Weekend – “the world’s only regular forum where collectors, dealers, curators, folk art and whaling history buffs share their interests in the indigenous art of whalers.”

On Friday, will be the Nautical Antiques Show from noon-5:00 p.m. Browse and purchase scrimshaw, logbooks, ship models, nautical instruments, photos and more for $5 or free with the purchase of admission. From 6-8:00 p.m. will be a special VIP cocktail reception where you can get a sneak peek at the Scrimshaw Exhibition and book launch for “Ingenious Contrivances, Curiously Carved: Scrimshaw in the New Bedford Whaling Museum” by Stuart M. Frank.

Saturday, will be filled with Presentation Programs with various speakers interspersed with coffee breaks and a lunch buffet. Guest speakers will include President James Russell, Chicago native John Miklos, Donald C. Boger, M.D., Captain Thomas Conley, Scrimshaw artist Ryan Cooper, James Vaccarino, and Andrew Jacobson. An evening banquet will follow, and the night’s events brought to a close with keynote speaker Jack H.T. Chang, M.D.

The entire event will conclude on Sunday with the Scrimshaw Gallery opening, a field trip through the “Seven Continents, Seven Seas” exhibition led by Stuart M. Frank before the public launch of his book “Ingenious Contrivances, Curiously Carved: Scrimshaw in the New Bedford Whaling Museum.”

For more information, a detailed itinerary, ticket prices, and hotel information go to Whaling Museum Scrimshaw Weekend 2012.

5. AHA Celebrations
Every second Thursday the city of New Bedford celebrates AHA, a showcase for New Bedford’s Architecture, History and Art. The Whaling Museum participates by staying open an extra four hours until 8 p.m. on AHA nights and often has live entertainment in the plaza. This is a very popular, family-oriented event that takes over the entire downtown. Not to be missed!

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About Michael Silvia

Served 20 years in the United States Air Force. Owner of New Bedford Guide.

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