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New England ‘Essex’ exhibitions reveal story behind In The Heart of the Sea

by | Oct 27, 2015 | Press Releases

Two exhibitions on the island of Nantucket, Massachusetts are offering travellers in New England the chance to delve deep into the history behind Moby Dick and In The Heart of The Sea, the latest blockbuster set to hit cinemas on 11 December.

The new exhibits at the Nantucket Whaling Museum in Massachusetts explore what life was like aboard the New England whaleship Essex which was famously sunk by a White Whale in the Pacific Ocean in November 1820. It is this event that inspired Melville’s classic novel Moby Dick and Nathaniel Philbrick’s bestseller In the Heart of the Sea, which will be released as a film starring Chris Hemsworth in UK cinemas on 11 December.

Stove by a Whale: 20 Men, 3 Boats, 96 Days runs throughout November and explores the tragic real life stories of the crew of the Essex. In particular, the exhibition follows the 20 sailors who attempted to sail thousands of miles across the Pacific to safety with limited food and water after their ship was sunk by the white whale. The exhibition also showcases Nantucket in its whaling heyday through many original artefacts.

The Mighty Misty Monster: Moby-Dick Embroidered Narratives runs throughout November and tells stories of the whaling era and the tragic sinking of the Essex through artist Susan Boardman’s latest series of embroidered narratives. Using traditional techniques Boardman has adapted the techniques of 17th century raised embroideries to depict whaleboats and ships, frothy waves and mighty whales.

Until 30 October 2015 (and again from May 2016 to October 2016) the museum will also run a number of walking tours which explore Nantucket’s unique whaling heritage. The museum’s In The Heart of the Sea walking tour (from $45 per person; www.shearwaterexcursions.com), in particular, visits locations relating to the crew of the ship and includes a trip on a quaint vessel named ‘Minke’ to see the remaining historic landmarks from the Nantucket whaling era.

As 2016 marks the 30th anniversary of the International Whaling Commission’s world ban on whaling, this winter is the ideal time to explore Nantucket, once the world’s whaling capital. Popular city sites include old whaling captain’s houses such as Century House, Anchor Inn and the Nantucket Whaler Guest House and Hadwen House, a mansion from the whaling era.

A short distance away on the mainland in Bristol County is the New Bedford Whaling Museum, the largest museum of its kind in the world. The museum showcases an extensive range of old whaling artefacts and boats, and in November will hold a series of special lectures on the region’s whaling history, alongside a premiere of the long-awaited film.

To learn more about New England, visit www.discovernewengland.co.uk