Mt. Rainier and Lenticular Clouds - Dec. 2008 copyright: JMM

May 17, 2014

Whaling Museum, Part 1

As mentioned before, there is a long history of whaling in this region.  Back in the 70s, classes and Camp Fire Girls/Boy Scouts troupes were often visited by a whaling historian in town named Colonel Clark.  He'd bring whale teeth & scrimshaw in to show us, and there was a big whale jawbone in front of his house.  We were also shown films about it, I guess to instill in us a sense of pride at our rich seafaring history.  I, on the other hand, was horrified by the graphic kills and carcass butchering.  Hor.Ri.Fied.  Blubber being cut in long strips, sailers ankle deep in blood and guts, oil being harvested out of sperm whale heads.  Good god it was awful.  Then finding out that they were just about hunted to extinction made me even sicker.  We were taken to the New Bedford Whaling Museum in the 3rd grade, in 1973.  I don't really remember much about the trip, except for my teacher pulling me aside to show me an old trunk with the last name 'Mendonca'.  I remember saying to her, 'But my name has a Z' and she said, 'Yes I know, but this is the way it was spelled in Portuguese and that squiggle under the 'c' gives it the 'z' sound.'  I never forgot it and from time to time over the years I thought about how cool it would be if I could find it again.  Well, that would mean another trip to the Whaling Museum and I was kinda reluctant to subject myself to the gore I remember from the 1970s.  I really was on the fence about going inside, but I decided to and boy am I glad I did.  





When I bought my admission, I asked the woman if she knew of a trunk with the Mendonca name on it.  She said she didn't offhand, but that they were moving a bunch of the trunks on exhibit into storage so she'd have to ask a docent and let me know.

Gone are the days of the gory depictions of the hunts.  It's an unfortunate part of our history, and I am pleased to see that it's being given a more regretful and respectful treatment.  The pictures, paintings, sculptures, etc. are quite nice to look at.  Yes there were a few pictures that showed the hunting but for the most part, it was fine.

This beadwork was incredible.

I just love ship-and-iceberg pictures!


Very huge picture of downtown New Bedford in the 1800s.

The emphasis is now on conservation.  This was an exhibit of how bad the garbage, plastic bits and nets are harming the fragile marine ecosystem.

The human skeleton is for scale, although I assume it's plastic whereas the whale one is real.


This was a pretty cool room....it had a small scale model of a whaling ship.



I liked how they had a photograph and then a 3D model.


Loved this crow's nest pic and model.



This was a neat sculpture too.



Wait....what's that next to the ship?

18 comments:

  1. Did they find the trunks and the one you were seeking? I enjoyed those photos, JoJo. I've got a whale on one of my blogs, but he's still got his skin on.

    http://dghudson.blogspot.ca/2014/05/environmental-colors-tankers-vs-whales.html

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    1. Thanks! I love whales too....it seems this series isn't going to be popular since I've only gotten one comment on this one. :( I'm not happy about whaling but it is a part of our history.

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  2. I'm impressed you went back after all that trauma, but I would, too, for family history and to see how the huge issue is being handled now. Good for you!
    Can't wait to hear more about that trunk...which reminds me of a family trunk I have which I must now add to my post ideas...
    Tina @ Life is Good
    On the Open Road! @ Join us for the 4th Annual Post-Challenge Road Trip!

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    1. I truly stood outside the building and weighed whether or not I should go in, but my curiosity got the best of me. I am glad I did though! I want to see the post about your family trunk. My bff has a gorgeous one that her grandfather or great grandfather made. It's fabulous with intricate inlay. He's is Swedish too.

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  3. Couldn't even contemplate going to a whaling museum. :(

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    1. Well like I said it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.

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  4. Interesting post. Now I'm totally giddy for the next one. I woke up at 4am and I come running to your blog. I haven't been commenting, but I always read what you post. I can't go back to sleep, so I'm re-reading your blog. I'd probably reply to some. HeHe.

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    1. You crack me up Sonnia! Well I'm glad people are reading even if they don't comment!

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  5. Looks like a cool place to visit. Loved seeing your pictures and hearing all about it. Looking forward to part two! ♥

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    1. Thanks Kathy. I didn't realize this place was going to be somewhat controversial for some people.

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  6. You found the Mendonca trunk? Is that it in the last photo? How exciting. Sounds like you had a wonderful, informed teacher back then and a great tour now. I know nothing about whales. They don't teach us about them in CA schools. This was fascinating, and the museum looks very well done.

    Be well, JoJo.
    xoRobyn

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    1. I know what you mean about the west coast not discussing a history of whaling. It does seem to be more of an east coast thing, but for the Native American & First Nations out in the Pacific NW. It's not part of our history that I'm real comfortable with but the museum is still fascinating.

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  7. I'm glad it was a better experience than the ones you had in childhood. It's funny how much has changed in the way we teach our kids. Some are better, some not so much. They showed us terrible videos of people getting hit and killed on the LIRR. What??!! But, it scared us so much, we stayed the hell of the rail road tracks. I don't think they'd ever show those videos nowadays.

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    1. As I recall, we were shown extremely graphic videos in driver's ed class too. The kind where the parents had to give their permission for us to watch because of the gore. Still doesn't stop kids from drinking and driving and being stupid though.

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  8. I have never seen such museum before, it is very interesting. Of course your eye caught that beadwork, it is very beautiful!
    The ship!!! Wow, it is increadibel, I always wanted to sail on such :)

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    1. It's a very interesting museum, that's for sure!

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  9. That is so cool that you found your trunk! What a great tour, thank you JoJo! Like you, I loathe the whale hunts and hope one day soon they are gone forever everywhere in the world.

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  10. What an amazing museum! I can well understand what a wonderful experience it must have been for you.

    Once whaling was perceived as a profitable and honorable business, and the whales be damned. It is nice to see how society's sensibilities have changed and how things can change for the better.

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