BOSTON — On May 14, the USS Constitution Museum in Boston and the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation (NMSF) unveiled a set of paintings commemorating the historic 38th Voyage of the whaleship Charles W. Morgan and its journey to the whaling grounds in Stellwagen Bank.
Created by Thomas W. Freeman, NMSF artist-in-residence, one painting depicts mother and calf humpback whales and other elements relating to Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary’s efforts to protect whales. The second Freeman work is the official 2014 painting for the Morgan’s unprecedented voyage next month to historic ports on the New England coast.
The Morgan, a National Historic Landmark built in 1841, is the oldest American commercial ship still afloat. Over an 80-year whaling career, the ship sailed on 37 voyages to the remote corners of the globe. The Morgan’s voyage to Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary represents the vessel’s full-circle transformation from being a hunter of whales to one bearing a message about their conservation.
“Taking the Charles W. Morgan onto Stellwagen Bank where she can sail amongst the whales will be the highlight of the 38th Voyage,” said Steve White, president of Mystic Seaport. “The mission of the ship is to help us understand why our forebears hunted whales, what that industry did for this country, and why ultimately we have chosen to cease that activity in lieu of preservation. The juxtaposition of the old and the new in the sanctuary will bring that message into focus for all of us.”
“The USS Constitution Museum is excited to welcome the Charles W. Morgan to Boston’s Charlestown Navy Yard this summer,” said Anne Grimes Rand, president of the USS Constitution Museum. “After she passes through Stellwagen Bank, the Morgan will berth in the Boston National Historical Park adjacent to ‘Old Ironsides.’ Seeing the world’s oldest whaling vessel adjacent to the U.S. Navy’s oldest frigate will be an inspiring sight.”
“Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary offers some of the best whale watching in the world,” said Jason Patlis, president and CEO of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation. “Tom’s paintings represent not only this special place and the iconic whales that depend on it for survival, but also a larger message of national whale conservation. NMSF is proud to be a part of the Morgan’s exciting voyage this summer.”
Freeman is a nationally and internationally recognized artist whose paintings hang in many galleries around the nation as well as in the White House. He is best known for his portrayals of heroic American maritime events and subjects.
Freeman said his goal in creating the paintings is to raise awareness about the various human and natural threats facing humpback and other whales and highlight the innovative research the sanctuary conducts in order to better understand how whales use the water column relative to human activities. Despite their impressive size, humpbacks and other whales face considerable threat from vessel strikes, underwater noise and marine debris – particularly lost or abandoned fishing lines and nets.
“Whales are some of the most magnificent creatures on earth and they have been around for millions of years,” Freeman said. “As stewards of the planet, we have an obligation to protect these majestic creatures so that current and future generations learn to understand and appreciate the need to keep the ocean productive and healthy.”
Both paintings will be displayed at the NMSF Ocean Awards Gala in DC on June 10. After the gala, the Stellwagen Bank painting will be moved to the Pilgrim Monument & Provincetown Museum and the Charles W. Morgan painting will be brought to Mystic Seaport.