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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.


F/V Innovation – Exhibit Opening, September 12th from 5:00pm- 8:00pm

September 12, 2019 – March 2020

F/V Innovation is a new exhibit exploring the evolution of vessels and gear and paying tribute to some of the individuals whose innovations propelled the industry into the modern era. It will be on display in the Center’s gallery from September 2019 through March of 2020.

The City of New Bedford has a long history of maritime innovators.  Perhaps most notable is blacksmith Lewis Temple who developed the Toggle Iron in 1848, a harpoon that revolutionized the whaling industry. In the years since, there have been many who have made their mark on the working waterfront including some who hold patents for their inventions.  F/V Innovation will feature Dan Mullins, known as the father of New Bedford’s fishing industry; Hathaway Machine Co., which produced essential fishing gear including the Hathaway winch; and the F/V Narragansett, America’s first stern trawler as well as lesser known innovators whose contributions helped to make fishing safer, easier, more profitable, and more sustainable.

The Center is working with teacher and curriculum developer Tove Bendiksen to develop standards-based curriculum materials and looks forward to welcoming school groups from mid-September through March.  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 related public programs 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 the members of the fishing community who loaned or donated artifacts and shared their knowledge to make this exhibit possible.

This exhibit has been financed in part with Federal funds from the National Maritime Heritage Grant program, administered by the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, through the Massachusetts Historical Commission, Secretary of the Commonwealth William Francis Galvin, Chairman. However, the contents and opinions do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Department of the Interior, or the Massachusetts Historical Commission, nor does the mention of trade names or commercial products constitute endorsement or recommendation by the Department of the Interior, or the Massachusetts Historical Commission.



38 Bethel Street
New Bedford, MA 02740

Located in New Bedford, the nation’s most valuable fishing port, New Bedford Fishing Heritage Center is dedicated to preserving and presenting the story of the fishing industry past, present, and future through exhibits, programs, and archives.

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