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Grand Panorama has been restored at the New Bedford Whaling Museum last year.
Grand Panorama has been restored at the New Bedford Whaling Museum last year.

America’s Longest Painting on Display

America’s Longest Painting on Display

America’s longest painting went on display on Saturday at the New Bedford Whaling Museum in Massachusetts.
In 2017, the Museum completed the conservation of the 1,275-foot-long (390 meters) “Grand Panorama of a Whaling Voyage ‘Round the World”, painted in 1848.
Now the public are reintroduced to the newly restored painting through two exhibitions: “A Spectacle in Motion: The Original” and “A Spectacle in Motion: The Experience.” Each exhibition will honor different aspects of the artwork, Art Daily reported.
In an era before the age of cinema, the Grand Panorama traveled the country as a “moving” panorama. It was how curious people without the means or inclination to travel were transported to exotic locales in the 1800s.
The Panorama was a performance spectacle, scrolling on giant spools with accompanying theatrics and narration. Although the painting will not be shown again as a moving panorama, which would undo the extensive conservation efforts, the museum will exhibit the painting in its entirety for a fully immersive experience.
“The Original” runs through October 8 and features the enormous painting at the historic Kilburn Mill in New Bedford. The exhibition is free and open to the public.
The second exhibition, “The Experience,” features a digital reproduction of the artwork as a theatrical moving picture show, similar to what audiences would have experienced in the 1850s. The exhibit opens July 29 and will run through 2021 at the museum.
“Seeing the Panorama in its entirety as a work of art, as well as experiencing it in motion, will be one of the most singular and spectacular American folk art milestones of this era,” said Christina Connett, Whaling Museum Chief Curator. “It is an artwork of national historical importance and a keystone that defines our region’s role in maritime heritage.”
Museum experts have also produced a two-volume book that highlights the importance of interpreting, studying, exhibiting, and conserving the Panorama, a unique national treasure.

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