The New Bedford Whaling Museum's Moby-Dick Marathon is an annual non-stop reading of Herman Melville's literary masterpiece. The multi-day program of entertaining activities and events is presented every January. Admission to the Marathon is free.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The New Bedford Homecoming of the Charles W. Morgan

Here's a quick rundown on (some of) today's events surrounding the return of whaleship Charles W. Morgan, newly restored, to New Bedford. The Morgan is "the only surviving wooden whaling ship from the 19th century American fleet." Built in New Bedford, and launched on July 21, 1841, she has been in Mystic Seaport since 1941. A multi-year restoration made the Morgan once again sea-worthy. She sailed into New Bedford harbor to be the centerpiece of a week of activities. Get down there and check it out! (Leave your backpack in the car. They're not permitted.)

Today was a chance to hear presentations from some of the Melville scholars we normally see only at the MDM. As always, these folks make me realize I have a lot of reading to do. Still, when Tim Marr opened his talk asking the audience, "How many of you couldn't finish Moby-Dick the first time you read it?", the scholars were the first to raise their hands!

I took pages of notes at these presentations, but what sticks in my mind is Dr. Marr quoting Stephen Colbert who asked, "Is Moby-Dick a metaphor for the struggle of trying to read Moby-Dick?" (Who was it said, "When one of a work's themes is the work itself, another of its themes is art."?)

The week's displays and events are the combined efforts of the New Bedford Whaling Museum, Mystic Seaport, the Nantucket Historical Association, and the Melville Society. That's some major fire-power, and they've done it up royally.

Like a trade show, there are lots of booths to visit inside the hall.

An area is curtained-off for the scholar presentations.

Outside, you can visit the schooner Ernestina. I've only ever seen her covered with snow, on my way to the MDM.

You can crew a whaleboat and row out for a waterline view of the Morgan. Our boatsteerer was a member of a local rowing club, well able to instruct the green crew.

Back on land, it is worth waiting in line for a chance to snake through the restored Charles W. Morgan.

According to Wikipedia, these flags spell "J B P N." What am I missing?

The dark brown areas in the diagrams show original, 1841-vintage bits of the Morgan.

Apparently, "How much is original?" is often asked.

At 4:30, it's time to deflate the whale.

The city is much more inviting on these warm summer evenings than in the January wind and ice of an MDM.

After dinner, Robert K. Wallace opened The Art of Seeing Whales exhibition at the Whaling Museum. Take your time here—the juxtapositions are deliberate.

Was anyone else put off by all the humorless, armed police stalking the area? [no photo here]

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