City of New Bedford, Whaling Museum, Cape Verde forge a cultural link

By Steve Urbon
Posted Jan. 4, 2016 at 12:08 PM
Updated Jan 4, 2016 at 6:22 PM

NEW BEDFORD — In a milestone for the Whaling Museum and for Cape Verdean history and culture, museum and Cape Verdean officials are joining with Mayor Jon Mitchell to reveal the details of a permanent cultural link between the city, the museum, and the government of Cape Verde.

The long-term cultural partnership will involve a permanent exhibition on whales and whaling in Sao Nicolau and Sao Vicente following a research visit exploring venues and logistics last year by museum managers.

An official cultural exchange protocol between the city, the museum and the Cape Verdean Ministry of Culture was signed in the summer of 2015 during the visit of the historic Charles W. Morgan to New Bedford. The details of the new exhibits will be revealed at a noon press conference Tuesday in the Harbor View Gallery of the museum.

“I am excited beyond words to see what has developed from the opening of the Cape Verdean exhibit in 2011,” said former Trustee Eugene Monteiro, now co-chairman of the museum’s Cape Verdean Advisory Council along with Dr. Patricia Andrade.

“A number of events have taken place leading up to where we are now,” Monteiro said, heaping praise on museum President James Russell for doggedly pursuing ways to bring Cape Verde and the Azores close to the museum.

Monteiro accompanied Russell on a trip to Cape Verde last April to identify what could be done with the available spaces on the islands and what artifacts and exhibits would be suitable for the museum’s first annex locations.

Russell said that the museum will supply about 50 artifacts for the exhibits including ship models, maps and whaling gear.

But in a twist, Russell said the museum has decided not to make long-term loans or reproductions, but to give the artifacts to Cape Verde outright as gifts.

He also said that he would like to make visits to the islands an annual event, so that the museums can explore expansion options. He said this will complement the superb artistry of Cape Verdean musicians, dancers and actors in a country without enough financial resources to fully support the mechanism of keeping a museum open.

Cape Verde has a special relationship with New Bedford dating back to the whaling days of the 1800s when whaleships became important conduits of immigration to the United States from Cape Verde.

Cape Verde became the main port of entry for many Cape Verdean immigrant whalers and their families. Their legacy is all around SouthCoast and Boston, a major element in the history of this part of the nation.

Attendees for today’s event will include: Mayor Jon Mitchell; Pedro de Carvalho, consul general of the Republic of Cape Verde; Ligia Timas, senior adviser to the Cape Verdean Ministry of Culture; Russell; Dr. Patricia Andrade, co-chair of the Cape Verdean Advisory Committee; and Monteiro.

Follow Steve Urbon on Twitter @SteveUrbonSCT

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