The Whaling Museum Announces ‘Sailing to Freedom’ Exhibit

NEW BEDFORD — The New Bedford Whaling Museum announces a groundbreaking new exhibit chronicling the experiences of slaves who made their way to freedom using the coastal waterways along the Atlantic Seaboard, opening in the Whaling Museum’s Center Street Gallery.

Sailing to Freedom: Maritime Dimensions of the Underground explores stories of the Underground Railroad through the lens of American maritime labor and industries, and seeks to expand historical understanding of how freedom was achieved by sea for many African Americans. It is an expansion of the 2021 publication of the same title, edited by Timothy Walker and published by UMass Press.

“The stories of the Underground Railroad are among the most powerful and meaningful stories in American history,” said Michael Dyer, curator of maritime history at the New Bedford Whaling Museum. “As our country undergoes a critical conversation about our history and the lens through which we frame it, this exhibit will serve as an important learning tool to expand societal understanding of the many paths to freedom.”

Research undertaken for this exhibit demonstrates that far greater numbers of slaves escaped servitude by sea than previously thought, particularly those fleeing the coastal areas of the Deep South where slaves were commonly employed. in various maritime industries.

“While research into the Underground Railroad focused almost exclusively on overland escape routes from the South, the ocean was the only viable path to liberation for thousands of slaves, especially from the Deep South. coastal,” said Timothy Walker, guest curator and editor. of Sailing to Freedom. “I am thrilled to see this exhibit come to the New Bedford Whaling Museum to share these incredible stories of resilience, ingenuity and triumph.”

For more information on the exhibit and surrounding events, please visit the New Bedford Whaling Museum website.

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