Provincetown’s Whaling Heritage
Provincetown is one of the nation’s most desirable vacation spots where visitors delight in whale watching. But few realize that the whaling industry helped shape the Provincetown we know today. This exhibition tells the fascinating story of how the town evolved from hunting whales to saving whales.
Curated by author Amy Whorf McGuiggan, whose family includes major artists in this thriving art colony, the show takes you on a voyage through time with artifacts, objects and personal stories, including:
The Early Days when Native Americans and early settlers practiced drift whaling and hunted whales in nearby waters
Edward Curtis, The Captured Whale, courtesy Northwestern University Library
The Golden Age, when whaling built Provincetown into one of the richest towns in Massachusetts.Yankee entrepreneurs like Captain John Atkins Cook, outfitted ships and sailed the Atlantic. Watch “Whaling Days,” the only film made of a whaling voyage – Cook’s voyage on his ship, The Viola, named after his wife.
Captain John Atkins Cook, PMPM collections
The Arrival of the Portuguese seamen seeking opportunities, who then built homes and businesses, bringing their unique culture and traditions to the town.
International Crew on John R. Manta, courtesy New Bedford Whaling Museum
The Final Days when Captain Cook’s whaling ship, the Charles W. Morgan, piloted by Provincetown’s Captain John T. Gonsalves made its last trip out of New Bedford in 1920.
Courtesy Mystic Seaport
Today, the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies is the world leader in rescuing whales. The exhibit also displays the whale fluke used for training teams to disentangle endangered whales.
Courtesy Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies NOAA permit 932-1905
Whaling Harpoons and Lances