Shark’s Tooth Sword

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So the other day, I figured out what my absolute favorite object in the Museum is, and I wanted to share it with everyone. As you probably saw in the title, that item is the Shark’s Tooth Sword in the … Continue reading

Moai Figurine

Moai figurine, in Scrimshaw: Shipboard Art of the Whalers.

Moai figurine, in Scrimshaw: Shipboard Art of the Whalers.

You might ask, what is a moai figurine?  This object is described as “A fragment of whale vertebra full-round-carved as a miniature replica of the Easter Island standing heads (moai), typifying a genre of Chilean vernacular art produced by locals as souvenirs for tourists in the 1970s, using boiled-out whale bones scavenged from the abandoned “modern” shore-whaling stations on the Chilean coast”. This carving was donated in 1970 by recently retired NBWM Senior Curator, Dr. Stuart M. Frank, and his wife, Harvard and Sea Education Assocation Professor, Dr. Mary Malloy.

I really enjoy looking at this object because it looks different from all the others. It doesn’t have many intricate details but the object stands out. This object stands out because it has smooth lines and curves , as compared to some of the other objects that have sharp curves and details. The average height of a moai is about 4 m (13 ft) high. But what really catches my attention is that this one is only about 18 cm (7 in) tall.

Sealers Crushed by Icebergs

Sealers Crushed by Icebergs, by William Bradford. 70.5 in tall x 120.5 in wide.

Sealers Crushed by Icebergs, by William Bradford. 70.5 in tall x 120.5 in wide.

Since working at the Whaling Museum I have become exposed to many forms of art. My absolute favorite would have to be “Sealers Crushed by Icebergs”  painted by William Bradford in 1866. This piece of art was purchased with funds donated by Andrew G. Hobbs. This painting was made on canvas with oil paint. My reasoning for this amazing  painting to be my favorite is that the colors really pop out. The blues and green really make the whole piece come together. It’s also fascinating how this man captured an experience that actually  happened in the Arctic. I believe this painting really brings together the whole exhibition of Bradford’s 1869 expedition to waters of Greenland. The exhibition is called Arctic Visions. This painting along with many other objects related to this voyage can be found in the Whaling Museum’s Wattles Family Gallery.

Dutch Bay Whaling in the Arctic

Dutch Bay Whaling in the Arctic by Cornelis Claesz van Wieringen. The painting is 3 ft tall x 5 ft wide.

Dutch Bay Whaling in the Arctic by Cornelis Claesz van Wieringen. The painting is 3 ft tall x 5 ft wide.

From the moment this astonishing oil painting caught my interest, I haven’t been able to keep my eyes off of it. Every painting tells its observer a story, and this specific illustration brings us back to Dutch whaling in the 1600′s. This image incorporates many aspects of whaling such as the capturing of whales themselves and processing them into oil. I find it very interesting how many artists, such as Cornelis Claesz van Wieringen, were inspired by the action of whaling and created such vivid depictions. This specific painting is the first known oil painting of a whaling scene, which makes it even more intriguing. For those who plan on visiting the New Bedford Whaling Museum, I strongly advise you to take a chance and gander at this fine piece of historical art.

My Favorite Piece

Paul Cuffe's compass. Captain Cuffe lived from 1759-1817.

Paul Cuffe’s compass. Captain Cuffe lived from 1759-1817.

I have to say that it is a very tough decision to try to choose what my favorite piece in the Museum is. However, I’ve narrowed it down to Captain Paul Cuffe’s compass. I really love Captain Paul Cuffe’s  compass for many reasons. The main reason is that it was actually used and touched by Paul Cuffe himself. That thought alone fascinates me. To know that there is so much history behind that compass is truly astonishing. If  that compass could talk I could only imagine the stories it could tell, stories I would be more than interested to hear.  Paul Cuffe was such an influential person in his time. He was a respected black man which was rare at that point in history. He owned his own ships and business. He traded around the globe.

The craftsmanship on it is another thing definitely worth mentioning. There is so much detail on the compass, it’s amazing. This is such an important piece to whaling history and my personal favorite.


The Old Darmouth Purchase

Old Dartmouth Purchase. Moose hide, yards of cloth, an axe and shoes are all visible.

Old Dartmouth Purchase case, in the ‘Link’ gallery. Moose hide, yards of cloth, an axe, a hoe, a kettle and shoes are all visible.

My favorite object in the museum is actually a compilation of objects – the case displaying the Old Dartmouth Purchase. The case shows some of the objects that the proprietors of Plimouth Colony used to purchase the township of Dartmouth from the Wampanoag people in 1652. They purchased 115,000 acres of land and the objects they used to do so would be equivalent to $35,000 today. Some of the objects in the case include a moose hide, a pair of shoes, and cloth. I think that this display is really interesting because it allows you to juxtapose the things that people valued in the 17th century with things that people value today. In the 21st century many people take their assets such as cars, cell phones, and computers for granted…people often do not think about the shoes or clothes that they wear. Back then, however, shoes held enough value to be included in a trade for a township! It’s almost unbelievable. The value of certain things, and the way that we go about purchasing things has changed drastically. Can you imagine taking a moose hide and making moccasins out of it? I surely can’t, but that’s what it was used for during that time. This display allows you to really see the ins-and-outs of the Old Dartmouth Purchase.

Ship Made Out of Bones!!

Model of Caledonia, made by prisoners of war. On display in The Art of the Ship Model.

Model of Caledonia, made by prisoners of war. On display in The Art of the Ship Model.

My favorite object on display is a ship model was made out of bones from left over meals of prisoners. It’s made to look like the biggest British warship, Caledonia. It was interesting to have read that prisoners would build up a collection of bones and put them in wet clay for a long period of time to make them soft before working on the construction. The Caledonia was the first ship in the Royal Navy to be rated at 120 guns. I find it really cool just brainstorming about how they had the ability to make pieces of bones into this model with all its detailed work. :)