Main Hall

From Boat to Table
Using objects, text, photographs, audio, and video, this interactive exhibit allows visitors to learn about all aspects of the seafood industry. Each section of the exhibit includes a look at changes over time with historical artifacts that speak to “Back when”.

Gearing Up presents the shoreside work involved in getting a vessel ready for fishing from vessel construction and the design and manufacture of nets and dredges to taking on fuel, ice, and provisions. Visitors can try mending a section of net and develop a grub list – a shopping list to feed their crew.

At Sea explores daily life aboard a fishing vessel including all aspects of the work, the use of technology for navigation and communication, and the importance of safety, as well as the experience of cooking, eating, and sleeping at sea. A wheelhouse creates a sense of shipboard life. A dress up area allows visitors to don fisherman’s clothing.

Sustaining the Resource provides an overview of industry efforts to ensure a healthy and plentiful resource including cooperative research which combines skills and knowledge of fishermen and scientists, advancements in technology, and gear modifications to allow for greater selectivity and reduced by-catch.

Landing the Catch follows the seafood from fish hold to auction, to processing plant, and finally to market. A seafood recipe exchange collects and disseminates community recipes. Settlement sheets from the 1960s and today illustrate changing economics.

The Fish News allows visitors to listen a broadcast by local radio personality Bill Brennan.  For over 20 years, Fish News was a vital link between sea and shore.  Listen to excerpts from a 1983 broadcast and browse our library of commercial fishing books and current and back issues of industry trade papers.


Wheelhouse Technology from Sounding Leads to Satellites
April 11 – July 7, 2019

Over the past century, new technologies have allowed New Bedford’s fleet to arrive on the grounds faster, fish safer, and communicate more easily. But at what cost? This exhibit considers the evolution and impact of technological change on the industry, the community, and the fish. In addition to considering the science behind devices such as EPIRB, SONAR, and LORAN, the exhibit and programs will consider topics such as Technology & Privacy, Dependence on Technology, and Technology & Sustainability.

A monthly program series will begin on Friday April 19th at 7:00 p.m. with Finding and Avoiding Fish: Is technology destroying or sustaining the industry? Fisheries scientists from the School for Marine Science and Technology at UMASS and members of the regional fishing industry will present collaborative research using high-resolution photo, video and artificial intelligence technologies to survey fish and shellfish species and develop fishing gear and practices that minimize by-catch and damage to habitat. This program will take place at the National Park Theater (33 William Street). Future programs to be held at the Fishing Heritage Center include Ship to Shore: How changing technology has impacted fishing families on Thursday, May 9th at 7:00 p.m. and Lost and Found: Safety and Surveillance in the Fishing Industry on Thursday, June 13th at 7:00 p.m. All programs will be presented free of charge.

Working with teacher and curriculum developer Tove Bendiksen, the Center is developing standards-based curriculum materials and looks forward to welcoming school groups from mid-April through June. Programs will last approximately one hour and can accommodate up to 24 students. For more information or to schedule a field trip, email

Funding for the exhibit and program series was provided by a National Maritime Heritage Grant administered by the National Park Service, Department of the Interior, a project grant from Mass Humanities, a state agency supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, and grants from Dartmouth, Fairhaven, and New Bedford Cultural Councils, local agencies supported by the Mass Cultural Council. The Center is grateful to Chris Electronics and the School for Marine Science and Technology for their extraordinary in-kind support, and the members of the fishing community who loaned or donated artifacts and shared their knowledge.