America's Longest Painting - Explained

Jul 31, 2018

Join New Bedford Whaling Museum experts for a series of lectures in August explaining the significance of America’s longest painting, the Grand Panorama of a Whaling Voyage ‘Round the World. The 170-year-old, 1,275 ft painting is on exhibit in two Whaling Museum exhibitions: “A Spectacle in Motion: The Original” and “A Spectacle in Motion: The Experience.”

Chief Curator Christina Connett, Ph.D. speaks about panoramas as a popular form of entertainment in the 19th century on August 7 at the Whaling Museum.

Michael P. Dyer, Curator of Maritime History, will look at the Grand Panorama through the industrial lens of whaling and maritime culture on August 14 at the Museum.

On August 28, Akeia Benard, Ph.D., Curator of Social History, will show how the Panorama reveals New Bedford as a global cosmopolitan hub with connections to the rest of the world through the whaling industry. Dr. Bernard’s lecture takes place at the Kilburn Mill, 127 West Rodney French Blvd in New Bedford, site of “A Spectacle in Motion: The Original.”

All lectures begin at 7 pm, preceded by receptions beginning at 6 pm. Cost to attend is $10 for Whaling Museum members and $15 for non-members. Series tickets cost $25 for members, $40 for non-members. Tickets can be purchased online at or by calling 508-997-0046.

In 2017, the Whaling Museum completed the conservation of the Grand Panorama of a Whaling Voyage ‘Round the World, painted in 1848 by Benjamin Russell and Caleb Purrington. “A Spectacle in Motion: The Original” features the enormous painting in its entirety at the Kilburn Mill and runs through October 8, 2018. “A Spectacle in Motion: The Experience” presents a large-scale digital reproduction of the artwork as a theatrical moving picture show, similar to what audiences would have experienced in the 1850s. This exhibition  runs through 2021 at the Whaling Museum, 18 Johnny Cake Hill in New Bedford, MA.