New Bedford Whaling Museum Awarded Money to Restore Artifact

FILE - In this Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015 file photo the likeness of a whale adorns a door at the New Bedford Whaling Museum in New Bedford, Mass. The museum has compiled a digital archive of more than a hundred thousand names of men who embarked on whaling voyages out of the Massachusetts port before the final one in 1927. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia, File)

FILE – (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia, File)

NEW BEDFORD – The New Bedford Whaling Museum has been awarded $180,000 to restore one of its largest and rarest artifacts, the “Purrington-Russell Grand Panorama of a Whaling Voyage Round the World”.

The award is made possible through the New Bedford Whaling National Historic Park, and coincides with the Park’s 20th anniversary and the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service.

The panorama, which measures over 1,200 feet in length and eight and a half feet tall, was created by Benjamin Russell and Caleb Purrington in 1848.

Produced in the heyday of the American whaling industry, it is the world’s largest extant visual record of a whaling voyage.

More than 150 years of traveling, handling and public exposure have contributed to the deterioration of the panorama’s nearly quarter-mile of painted cotton sheeting.

It has not been exhibited in its entirety for more than 50 years.

Conservation of the panorama is considered a monumental project by professional conservators.

To date, about half of the panorama has been treated with a fixative spray on the paint layer to prevent the image from flaking away.

Visitors can see the panorama now in the Museum’s Bourne Building, where it is being photographed in its entirety.

Soon, visitors will be able to observe conservation in process in the Conservation Lab in the Museum’s Wattles Jacobs Education Center.

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