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May 7, 2009
March 2, 2008
February 15, 2002
The first exhibit that catches your eye as you walk in the door is the 66 foot skeleton of a young blue whale. In March 1998 it was discovered off the coast of Rhode Island, after having been accidentally struck and killed by a ship. It was 4-6 years old and weighed 50 tons. The skeleton itself weights 4 tons and it's an impressive sight hanging from the ceiling.
We arrived on Saturday around 2:30 pm. There is a family program called Saturdays at Sea from 2-4 on Saturdays. We were regaled with songs of the sea and we could hear them telling stories about adventerous seamen (a whale of a good tale, I gathered). Children and their families were sitting around on what looked like sea chests listening. Children with extra energy can climb around on the Fo'c'scle which is right behind the stage. This is a mock up of the sleeping quarters and the cutaway deck of a ship.
There was a nice hands-on exhibit that lets you hear the different sounds that whales make. Different breeds have a very different call. Part of the same exhibit told facts about the different breeds, size, weight, breeding habits, etc. We watched one little boy and he was facinated by the sounds.
I enjoyed the cases full of scrimshaw. There were some lovely pieces, some pratical some sheer whimsy. I never knew that the sailors would carve scenes on whalebones stays so that their sweethearts could wear them close to their hearts. There was also several cases about the early Quakers who settled New Bedford and also New Bedford's role in the Underground Railroad.
The Bark Lagoda has a room to itself. You can go in and climb aboard this whaling ship model 89 feet long ( it is 1/2 size). You get a real feel for a whaling ship even in the smaller size.
There is an observation deck off the back of the building where you get a wonderful view of New Bedford Harbor and it becomes obvious that fishing is still a very important part of life here.
The second floor offers art work by local artists as well as an interesting exhibit about Joshua Slocum who circumvented the world. The exhibit features pictures taken of him along his route as well as articles relating to the voyage and his mysterious disappearance.
This is a very enjoyable museum and can be done in about an hour. There is a nice gift shop with some high quality tee shirts and also lots of things that children will enjoy as well as a great selection of books on New Bedford and whaling.
From journal New Bedford-For a Whale of a Good Time