Hundreds of scholars, artists and historians to gather for Whaling Museum’s Scrimshaw Weekend, May 12-14

Mar 14, 2017
8th Annual Nautical Antiques Show kicks of the weekend on May 12


The New Bedford Whaling Museum will host the 29th annual Scrimshaw Weekend on May 12-14. With more than 5,000 historical scrimshaw objects in its collection, the Museum is the ideal venue for Scrimshaw Weekend - the world’s only forum devoted to the indigenous shipboard art of whalers during the “Age of Sail.” Founded in 1989, this event attracts enthusiasts from across the globe who gather to study, celebrate, and discover this unique and remarkable art form.

The 8th Annual Nautical Antiques Show on Friday, May 12 kicks off this year’s Scrimshaw Weekend. The show features high-quality antiques from some of New England’s most respected dealers. The Antiques Show runs from noon to 5 p.m. and is free with regular admission to the Museum and/or with the purchase of a ticket to Scrimshaw Weekend. Admission to an early bird period from 11 am to noon is available for an additional $5.

Scrimshaw Weekend officially begins Friday, May 12 with a keynote presentation at 8 p.m. by Stuart M. Frank: The John Fitzgerald Kennedy Scrimshaw Collection. Two full-days of discovery, learning, and stimulating talks follow.

Weekend presentations will include:


  • Medicalshaw: Aspects of medical Practice in Scrimshaw Art
  • The Catalpa Scrimshaw – presented by the scrimshaw artist, Gary Tonkin
  • What the Whalemen Wore
  • Scrimshaw in the London South Sea Whale Fishery
  • Scrimshaw in Tasmania – presented by Mr. Colin S. Thomas of Hobart, Tasmania
  • The Art of the Yankee Whale Hunt
  • Annual market Report
  • Antique Scrimshaw Collectors Association – progress to date

Saturday evening includes a reception, dinner, and book signings with Kenneth R. Martin, Around the World in Search of Whales: A Journal of the Lucy Ann Voyage 1841-1844; Stuart M. Frank, Classic Whaling Prints and Ingenious Contrivances; and Judith N. Lund, American offshore Whaling Voyages.

Registration for the three-day Scrimshaw Weekend is $315 for Whaling Museum members and $370 for non-members. Registration includes regular admission to the Nautical Antiques Show, all sessions Friday through Saturday, and dinner on Saturday evening. The Saturday dinner and evening program can be purchased separately for accompanying guests at $75 per person. Sunday’s festivities will include an off-site field trip (TBD). There is an additional fee (TBD) for the Sunday field trip to cover the cost of transportation and lunch. Full scholarships are available to university-level students, supported by the generosity of Robert C. Eldred Co., Northeast Auctions, and Skinner, Inc.

“This is one of my all-time favorite events at the museum,” said Stuart M. Frank, Senior Curator Emeritus for the New Bedford Whaling Museum and Scrimshaw Weekend host. “It’s the one time each year that people from all over the country and abroad who are interested in scrimshaw (whether or not they are actually collectors) can get together, compare notes, socialize, and maybe swap some pieces. The folks who attend are so interested, so companionable, and so welcoming of newcomers — and with a lots of merriment and a gala banquet in the middle, it’s like what an ideal family Thanksgiving is supposed to be. It’s great fun and I always learn a lot.”

The 29th annual Scrimshaw Weekend is sponsored by Robert C. Eldred Co., Northeast Auctions, Skinner Inc., Antiques and the Arts Weekly, and Maine Antique Digest.

For more information or to register for the event, call 508-997-0046 ext. 100 or visit and click on the programs tab.