Building a home for the Grand Panorama in New Bedford
When “A Spectacle in Motion” opens to the public Saturday at Kilburn Mill at Clarks Cove, it will not only be a proud moment for the New Bedford Whaling Museum. It will also be a day of satisfaction for the building’s owners, managers and crew who worked day and night to prepare the space.
“A Spectacle in Motion: The Original” is the exhibit of the 1,275-foot long “Grand Panorama of a Whaling Voyage ‘Round the World,” painted in 1848. It has undergone a meticulous conservation effort and will now be shown by the Whaling Museum for the first time since 1964.
“We feel privileged to have it here,” said Kilburn Mill building manager Peter Andrade, who has been at the building for 31 years.
That’s reflected in the heroic effort it took to transform 21,000 square feet — out of a total 80,000 square feet — of the third floor into a gallery capable of displaying the 19th century work of art that, in its entirety, is longer than the Empire State Building is tall.
Andrade estimates that the job should have taken six months — but the Kilburn Mill team accomplished the renovation of the formerly unused space in a month and a half. It was overseen by one of the building’s owners, James Murray, acting as construction manager, and lead by Jorge L. Acevedo and Andrade with the help of up to 20 crew members at various points.
When Andrade heard that the Whaling Museum was looking for, but having difficulty finding, a space to display the panorama he thought, “Why not here? It would be a shame for it to leave New Bedford.”
After the decision was made by the Whaling Museum to display it at Kilburn, the team swung into action.
They moved heating pipes and electrical wires. The ceiling was brought back to its original wood finish. Hardwood flooring was repaired. New walls were put up to define the area. Air conditioning, lighting and security were installed.
And, the mill windows overlooking Clarks Cove were re-glazed and the frames painted a period color.
The fruits of their labor will be on display alongside the panorama when “A Spectacle in Motion: The Original” opens at the mill, 127 West Rodney French Blvd.
Opening July 29 and running concurrent with “A Spectacle in Motion: The Original” is “A Spectacle in Motion: The Experience” at the Whaling Museum, 18 Johnny Cake Hill. It features a digital reproduction of the artwork as a theatrical moving picture show, similar to what audiences would have experienced in the 1850s.
This content was originally published here.