Visit to see the "Museum from Home"

AMANDA MCMULLEN (Executive Director of the New Bedford Whaling Museum): We have a couple of different components that we wanted to target and make it easy for the different audiences that we anticipated coming to the website to take advantage of what we offer. So you would see right from our website on our museum from home, you've got a section for parents, a section dedicated to art lovers, a portion dedicated for teachers and students because we know so many are doing their virtual classrooms. We have a fun part called history, her story because this year marks the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment and women's right to vote. And then we've added a fun portion on we're calling bookworms and clearly our connection obviously with Melville and Moby Dick, but many of the museum publications are available here and we are Shipping and we're doing quite a interesting e commerce business with our our publications that are coming out.

JAMES: I imagine the resources for parents are very important right now. I know a lot of people witt heir kids at home are trying to keep them entertained and engaged - it’s a bit of a challenge. What do you have in the “for parents” section?

AMANDA MCMULLEN: We have an assortment under our parents section here that includes a virtual field trip through the museum so people can get inside and see the museum itself and be able to sort of zoom in and out. But then we have some sort of hands on activities that we've also been able to push out. Particularly leaning into our strength and leadership around whale science. We were able to do some neat work with our collections folks and our librarian, who captured some short quick hit videos of just some of their favorite objects in our collection and in our library.

[AUDIO FROM WHALE MUSEUM]: Can a whale really swallow a person? The only species with a throat big enough to do that is a sperm whale. The blue whale, the biggest animal in the ocean has a throat opening only the size of a basketball. They eat krill, they don't need a big throat.

AMANDA MCMULLEN: And then there's really neat work with our bio acoustics collection which we had donated in the last year from Woods Hole. And so people can go on, for example, and listen to some of the bio acoustic bio acoustics collection from whales. And we've encouraged people to create their own ocean beats and make their own music from being inspired by the sounds of the whales.

JAMES: Here’s an example by Steve Bold of Mashpee, Massachusetts.

[music made from whale song]

AMANDA MCMULLEN: So we have a particular expertise in working with teenagers and so we've created a community diary that's also on our museum from home called quaranteen and as it's spelled teen T-E-E-N. And it's really really great, because there's a lot out there for younger kids. Right now, there's a lot we find from museums and cultural organizations for adults. But this teenage crew is kind of missing on that virtual engagement, I find. And so this is actually posing questions for them to create a video diary and a response to this moment uniquely through the eyes, and as told only by teenagers, so that's been a really fun, give and take where we're getting the responses back in.

The whaling museum closed our doors in light of this pandemic crisis on March 13. And the museum from home efforts really became an all hands on deck collaborative effort from our museum team that essentially did things that are in our strategic plan that are two years out, but we fast forward it and did these things in a couple of weeks time. But our lighting the way work, which is a program that the museum has on the historic women of the south coast. was all in motion anyways. And because of the marker of the 19th amendment turning 100 years, there's been a lot in motion for us in terms of celebrating this moment, but also acknowledging that the 19th amendment didn't mean that every woman got the right to vote. And so we've got a lot of different discussions going online, we had a young artists showcase that's called Ignite. And that will be also celebrated online with some of the artwork in response from a standpoint of young women in particular, but youth across New Bedford and the community responding to what it would be like if half of the population did not have the right to vote. And then we're going to have a video contest that we'll be launching in another couple of weeks that are focused on lighting the way was really a collection of these women's stories and their contributions. We wanted to in 2020 be able to have 100 stories collected and researched and published on our website. So we are having a video contest where young women will be speaking about 10 different women in our publications and in our collection. And then we are going to connect this with local artists to create large scale mural banners that will be put up on the side of the museum. So it will all culminate together in a celebration in August around the centennial ratification of the 19th amendment, but there was a huge online component for this that was already built in so we're really leaning heavily into that and you'll see more of that in the next couple of weeks on lighting away.

JAMES NARR: One recent restoration project by the whaling museum is the “Grand Panorama of a whaling voyage ‘round the world” by Benjamin Russell and Caleb Purrington. It’s a giant painting on fabric, over 1,200 feet long that was rolled up and taken from town to town and then unspooled for public display.

AMANDA MCMULLEN: Having been on a whaling voyage, it was their recollections and sketches from their own personal experience to create this panorama, which in the mid-1800s were created before movies and essentially became a form of entertainment. So people would go to a panorama viewing, they’d pay all of 5 or 10 cents, they’d fill up the house, the lights would dim, the curtains would be pulled back. This textile would literally rotate on spools and it would be narrated. And it would be the precursor to a movie so to speak and someone in Ohio could look at what it would be like to go on a whaling voyage around the world.