New Bedford Fishing Heritage Center Launches New Permanent Exhibition

NEW BEDFORD – The New Bedford Fishing Heritage Center recently celebrated the opening of its new permanent exhibit, “More than Work: Work and Community in the New Bedford Commercial Fishing Industry”.

In this Standard Times file photo taken earlier this spring, Laura Orleans, manager, observes that a new one-third-scale scallop dredge manufactured by Blue Fleet Welding Services is installed at the New Bedford Fishing Heritage Center .

The center opened the new exhibit and celebrated its fifth anniversary on Saturday June 26 with a free public event. The celebration at 38 Bethel St. included demonstrations of industry skills, activities for kids and live music by the Rum Soaked Crooks. A lecture program included remarks by Congressman Bill Keating, State Representative Tony Cabral and Brian Boyles, Executive Director of Mass Humanities.

“The country’s most precious port has long deserved an institution dedicated to telling its story,” said Chief Executive Officer Laura Orleans. “The Fishing Heritage Center fills that void and our new exhibit offers visitors the kind of immersive experience usually only found in large museums.”

“More Than a Job” offers visitors an introduction to the New Bedford fishing industry. Visitors can explore the changing nature of work and community through exhibits that showcase the history of work, immigration, and sustainability. They can also discover a working deck, which includes a scallop dredge, kitchen table, and bunks. Guests can view historical and contemporary footage and footage, and listen to over sixty audio clips sharing the many voices of the fishing community:

“My husband, he didn’t tell me, but he fell overboard while they were at sea. They hauled the net, and he was in it. . . Now, these kinds of things that our husbands didn’t tell us, because they didn’t want us to be mad about it. -Barbara Calnan, fisherman’s wife

This quote is one of the plethora of audio clips featured in “More than a Work”, taken from the centre’s vast collection of audio recordings to create five listening stations and an interactive touchscreen.

In 2004, the Working Waterfront Festival began documenting the history and experiences of the fishing community through interviews and lively discussions with members of the industry. When the Fisheries Heritage Center opened in 2016, this rich collection became the basis of the Centre’s archives. Since then, the center has doubled the size of its digital collection, engaging in several important projects.

Funding for “More than a Job: Work and Community in the New Bedford Commercial Fishing Industry” is provided by a large grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and significant support from the Bristol County Savings Bank. Significant in-kind support for this exhibition was provided by Fairhaven Shipyard and Blue Fleet Welding.

About the New Bedford Fishing Heritage Center

Over the past five years, the Fishing Heritage Center has welcomed thousands of visitors, hosted hundreds of local students, recorded dozens of oral history interviews, created numerous exhibits and organized a wide variety of educational programs. See the centre’s website for updates on this event, www.fishingheritagecenter.org.

Located in the country’s most valuable fishing port, the New Bedford Fishing Heritage Center is dedicated to preserving and presenting the history of the commercial fishing industry past, present and future through exhibits, programs and archives. The center is open Thursday to Sunday, 10 am to 4 pm As of July 1, admission is $ 5; $ 4 for seniors and students; and free for members and children under 12. To schedule a small-group tour of the new exhibit or to learn more about the exhibit, contact [email protected] or call 508-993-8894.

About Elaine Morales

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