Historic Whaling Ship Exhibition Opens in New London

The Morgan is currently docked at New London's City Pier. Photo/City of New London.
The Morgan is currently docked at New London’s City Pier. Photo/City of New London.

The traveling exhibition that will accompany the historic whaleship Charles W. Morgan on her 38th Voyage will open in New London, Connecticut, on Saturday, May 24. The public will be able to experience the exhibition and board the ship, which just completed a 5-year restoration and was moved to New London last week.

The Morgan is berthed at City Pier near the New London town center as she completes her fitting out for the voyage.

The ship and dockside exhibition will be open on May 24, 25, 31, and June 1 from 9:00 a.m. to 5 :00 p.m. each day.

Visitors can learn about the Morgan, whales, whaling and their importance to American history in the 22,000-square-foot exhibition. Featured is a video on the history and significance of the 173-year-old vessel plus a series of panels that explain the role the American whaling industry had in this country’s history; how the Morgan and whaleships were an early connector of different cultures; and how America’s perception of the natural world has changed since the Morgan’s whaling career. Hands-on activities include knot-tying, handling samples of wood used in the restoration, and searching the Morgan’s crew lists for familiar names or hometown connections.

A focal point is Spouter, a 46’, life-sized inflatable model of a sperm whale. Visitors can participate in a “What Bubbles Up?” activity by writing down their whale-related memory, question, or sketch and attaching it to a humpback whale sculpture.

Mystic Seaport interpreters will demonstrate the 19th-century maritime skills of a cooper, shipsmith, ropemaker, and whaleboat rower. There will also be live performances including sea chanteys, the interactive “Tale of a Whaler,” and a condensed rendition of Moby-Dick – “Moby-Dick in Minutes.” Visitors will even have the opportunity to try their hand at rowing a whaleboat during select times.

Voyage partner, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, will have an exhibit booth to explain how the National Marine Sanctuaries interpret America’s maritime past, promote ocean conservation, and engage in cutting-edge research. They will show how whales feed and what they feed on, and present videos that feature information on the National Marine Sanctuary System, whales, whale research, and whaling heritage. Kids can even create their own whale hat. In July, the Morgan will sail to the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary off Provincetown, Mass., as part of her voyage. Stellwagen Bank is a popular feeding ground for whales in the summer months.

The ship and dockside exhibition will be open on May 24, 25, 31, and June 1 from 9:00 a.m. to 5 :00 p.m. each day. There is a suggested admission of $5 per person for those ages 6 years and older. Children ages 5 years and younger are admitted for free, as are current Mystic Seaport members with their membership card

In addition to the Mystic Seaport exhibit, New London Landmarks, the Custom House Maritime Museum, the New London County Historical Society, and Flock Theatre have created a schedule of events to celebrate New London’s whaling heritage. Events include walking tours, exhibit and house tours, a parade, a “chowda fest,” and several Flock Theatre performances of the one-act play “Ile,” by Eugene O’Neill. For more information, please visit the New London Landmarks website.

The Morgan will be in New London until June 14, when she departs for Newport, the next destination on a voyage across Southern New England that will include stops in Vineyard Haven, New Bedford, the Cape Cod Canal, Provincetown, and Boston.

To learn more about New London watch this video: