Posted Jul 31, 2018 at 5:54 PM
Experts will give a series of lectures in August about America’s longest painting, “Grand Panorama of a Whaling Voyage ’Round the World,” which is featured in two New Bedford Whaling Museum exhibitions: “A Spectacle in Motion: The Original” and “A Spectacle in Motion: The Experience.”
Chief Curator Christina Connett will speak about panoramas as a popular form of entertainment in the 19th century on Aug. 7 at the Whaling Museum. Michael P. Dyer, the museum’s curator of maritime history, will look at the Grand Panorama through the industrial lens of whaling and maritime culture on Aug. 14 at the Museum. On Aug. 28, Akeia Benard, curator of social history, will show how the painting reveals New Bedford as a global cosmopolitan hub with connections to the rest of the world through the whaling industry.
All lectures begin at 7 p.m., preceded by receptions at 6. The cost to attend is $10 for museum members and $15 for nonmembers. Series tickets cost $25 for members, $40 for nonmembers. Tickets are available at whalingmuseum.com or by calling 508-997-0046.
In 2017, the museum completed the conservation of the 1,275-foot-long “Grand Panorama of a Whaling Voyage ’Round the World,” painted in 1848 by Benjamin Russell and Caleb Purrington. “A Spectacle in Motion: The Original” features the enormous painting in its entirety at the Kilburn Mill in New Bedford and runs through Oct. 8. “A Spectacle in Motion: The Experience” presents a large-scale digital reproduction of the artwork as a theatrical moving picture show, similar to what audiences would have experienced in the 1850s. This exhibition opened July 29 and will run through 2021 at the museum.
Tuesday, Aug. 7: A Spectacle in Motion: 19th Century Entertainment and ‘Grand Panorama of a Whaling Voyage ‘Round the World’
At New Bedford Whaling Museum
By Dr. Christina Connett, Chief Curator
Dr. Connett will place the Panorama in the larger context of the era’s visual culture. The Panorama is one of only a few surviving American moving panoramas, an enormously popular art and entertainment form that reached its peak in the mid-19th century. In many ways, panoramas were cultural indicators of public interests that fed the massive popularity of 19th-century World’s Fairs. Much like the extraordinary adventure writings of authors such as Jules Verne and Robert Louis Stevenson, panoramas brought the spectacle of the exotic and the unknown to eager audiences of armchair travelers in the Industrial Age. Audiences keen on the authentic experience, but without the means or desire to travel far afield, could be transported to another locale through the spectacle of the moving panorama.
Tuesday, Aug. 14: Industry of Whaling and Maritime Culture of Mid 19th-Century America
At New Bedford Whaling Museum
By Michael P. Dyer, Curator of Maritime History
Dyer will examine the Panorama through an industrial lens. Benjamin Russell probably conceived his idea for a traveling whaling panorama picture show sometime between 1841, when he shipped on board a whaler, and 1847, around the time when he and Caleb Purrington actually began to paint it. The painting coincided with the height of American whaling, economically, physically and culturally. The impacts of the whaling enterprise were felt through many segments of American society and its profits later funded the fine and mechanical arts, and local industries as divergent as banking, machine-tool manufacturing, and cotton-spinning. The growth of the industry demanded an American diplomatic presence in many faraway lands, advancing the vanguard of American hegemony in the Pacific.
Tuesday, Aug. 28: Globalization and Diversity of Maritime Industries from New Bedford
Kilburn Mill, 127 West Rodney French Blvd., New Bedford
By Dr. Akeia Benard, Curator of Social History
Benard will show how the Panorama reveals New Bedford as a global cosmopolitan hub with connections to the rest of the world through the whaling industry. The painting illustrates the path of expanding hegemony of the United States through American commerce worldwide in remote and “exotic” ports and landfalls. Details of the ports – their geography, inhabitants, architecture and maritime infrastructure – are vividly represented in the painting. In its very structure, the Panorama represents the connections between these far-flung locations and different cultures forged by the American enterprise of whaling and the global dominance of the American whaling industry.
Original story here.