"Exploiting the 19th century panorama craze with tales of the high seas"
July 11, 2018 8:33 AM   Subscribe

A Spectacle in Motion: The Grand Panorama of a Whaling Voyage ‘Round the World North America's longest painting is going to be shown in all its restored glory in New Bedford this weekend. It is a quarter mile long, meant to be shown as a scrolling moving picture (PDF). If you can't visit. there's a stunning GIS-enabled digital version which includes a thoughtful article about Globalization and Diversity of Maritime Industries from New Bedford.
posted by jessamyn (13 comments total) 43 users marked this as a favorite

I love the whole idea of panoramas! We were told about this in my theater history class lo these many years ago - This was a big-deal thing back in the day. Sometimes they were displayed like the article suggests (a gradually-unfolding thing), and sometimes they were put into specially-designed dome-shaped rooms on upper floors of buildings that people entered through a circular stairway in the center. There's another panorama painting on display at The Met here in NYC - I've gone to visit it many times and I keep seeing details I"ve missed before.

Will have to check out the digital version when I'm home. Thanks!
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:38 AM on July 11, 2018 [1 favorite]

I was quite taken with the idea of panoramas when I first read about John Banvard's Mammoth Panorama in Paul Collins' book Banvard's Folly. I've always wanted to experience one.
posted by Ashwagandha at 9:26 AM on July 11, 2018

It's been a good week for panoramas: the Museum of London has bought a wonderful seven-metre panorama of London in 1815 (a preparatory study for a now-lost 30-metre panorama) that came up for auction just a few days ago.
posted by verstegan at 9:39 AM on July 11, 2018

This is way nifty.

Side note: If anyone reading this thread is in the process of acquiring a cat, please give "Caleb Purrington" strong consideration for its name. Thanks in advance.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 10:14 AM on July 11, 2018 [2 favorites]

I learned about Banvard in this episode of the excellent kid's history podcast The Past and the Curious.
posted by bq at 11:26 AM on July 11, 2018

That museum was already pretty nifty, but this exhibit is making me consider a re-visit this summer!
posted by wenestvedt at 12:14 PM on July 11, 2018 [1 favorite]

Neat post. The digital version link within is obsessively interesting to explore. It is ... a heck of a lot ... of painting.
posted by Wordshore at 12:35 PM on July 11, 2018 [1 favorite]

Who doesn't love a cyclorama? Without really trying, I've visited cycloramas in three different cities, Gettysburg, Atlanta and Lucerne.
posted by lagomorphius at 12:39 PM on July 11, 2018

This is awesome. Pretty sure that I and a bunch of my boat building school cohort are going to arrange a visit once we're all back summer break.
posted by ursus_comiter at 7:12 PM on July 11, 2018

Equal in length to fourteen blue whales, my goodness.

The digital version was fun to look through (and I so very appreciated the map). It must be really amazing in person.
posted by mixedmetaphors at 7:55 PM on July 11, 2018 [1 favorite]

It was epic! More when I am not on my phone.I put a few pix in the tweeter.
posted by jessamyn at 4:44 PM on July 14, 2018

So not only did we go to see it, we did a whole New Bedofrd thing which was really nice. Apparently the painting opened Satitrday but Friday was free museum day so we got to the museum (which is not where the painting was) and they were like "$17" and we were like "But the painting is free right?" and they said yeah so we just waited for the shuttle bus. It looks like they basically fixed up the top floor of a mill that had previously been empty just to put the painting and the other stuff up there. It was sort of a hot day and all fo the other stuff (jugglers? food trucks?) were in the parking lot and I have no idea where the "remarks" (which I had wanted to see) wound up being but whatever.

This was just an amazing experience. The presentation was really lovely. Four very long stripes of the painting (which you can see on my twitter images) with a little bit of interpretive stuff around it and one wall of "related materials" which were fun to read and look at (conservation news, some stuff from the last time the thing came through). Not a ton of people. I assumed it would be kind of mobbed. We took the stairs up and the bizarre elevator down which has really half the fun. The painting itself is more like scenery painting (designed to be viewed from a distance, not fine art stuff and I wasn't expecting fine art stuff) and had a lot to look at and it was just great to get so deep into a work of art like that. The whole area was really done up nice, had great AC and a little more stuff around it--bookstore, bottled water, etc--and it was FREE. Great thing all around, everyone should try to go see it before it leaves in October.
posted by jessamyn at 3:13 PM on July 17, 2018 [2 favorites]

Very cool! I’ve got a bit of time off with no plans during the exhibit period and I’m kind of tempted to make a road trip of it.
posted by rodlymight at 5:16 PM on July 17, 2018

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