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Grant number like: PG-51724-12

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New Bedford Whaling Museum (New Bedford, MA 02740-6398)
Gregory J. Galer (Project Director: May 2011 to August 2013)
Alison Meyer Smart (Project Director: August 2013 to January 2014)

Preservation Assistance Grants
Preservation and Access

$5,000 (approved)
$5,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2012 – 6/30/2013

Conservation Assessment of a 19th-Century Whaling Panorama

Hiring a team of consultants to assess the condition and conservation needs of a whaling panorama dating to 1848, painted on 52-inch-wide lengths of cotton fabric and measuring 1,275 feet in length and 8.5 feet in height. Two conservators would travel to the Saco Art Museum in Maine with two of the museum's staff to examine a similar panorama, which has recently undergone conservation, and consult with its conservation team, in order to develop a treatment protocol for the New Bedford painting.

The 1848 "A Whaling Voyage 'Round the World" panorama is a rare survivor of a unique style of large-scale landscape and narrative painting. It survives today, in poor condition, but with a proper treatment plan, it can be stabilized and restored. Artists Benjamin Russell and Caleb Purrington created the 1,275-foot-long panorama of a whaling voyage from New Bedford to the Azores, Cape Verde and Cape Horn, painted on 52-inch-wide lengths of cotton fabric and executed in a water-based distemper paint that has suffered wrinkling, flaking and powdering. NEH funding will allow the Museum to convene a team of experts to expand the in-house assessment and identify best practice in treatment for a unique artifact, and allow them to travel to necessary sites to gather the relevant information. The project will result in a formal conservation protocol, as well as a plan to safely handle, exhibit, and store the artifact for the long term.