NEW BEDFORD (WBSM) — Just days before the New Bedford Whaling Museum will hold its annual Moby-Dick Marathon event, the City of New Bedford announced today its intentions to erect a statue depicting the book’s author, Herman Melville.

Melville spent time in New Bedford as a young man and later used his time in the city and on an 18-month journey on a whaling ship as the inspiration for his classic novel.

According to a release, the Melville statue will be erected at an as-yet-undetermined site in the city’s Historic District, the same neighborhood depicted in Moby-Dick.

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It is the latest in a series of monuments planned in the city, and will be paid for with a mix of public and private funds.

Last year, the City unveiled a statue of famed abolitionist Frederick Douglass at the new Abolition Row Park. There is also a monument planned in the Clark’s Point neighborhood to recognize local veterans who served in post-9/11 conflicts. In 2016, a sculpture and park dedicated to former State Rep. Tony Lopes was completed.

While someone like Douglass was shaped by New Bedford, the city itself is what helped to shape Melville and his work.

“New Bedford is the setting for what is arguably the preeminent work of American literature. The novel has had a profound influence on artists the world over and on American culture itself,” Mayor Jon Mitchell said. “As it was until recently with Frederick Douglass, honoring Melville with a statue in New Bedford is long overdue.”

“Melville’s spirit still echoes throughout all of New Bedford,” said Whaling Museum President and CEO Amanda McMullen. “We applaud the City of New Bedford’s vision for a Herman Melville statue. It is a natural choice for our Whaling City and will be a wonderful addition to the bounty of terrific public art. New Bedford’s rich maritime history and connection to Herman Melville’s literary masterpiece make it the perfect home for this iconic tribute.”

Janet Barbosa
Janet Barbosa
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Any artists who might be interested in taking on the project are asked to submit their contact information, a statement of interest, a resume/CV, previous work samples and an estimated budget by February 16.

“The City will establish an advisory committee – comprised of representatives from the arts and culture scene, as well as local historians – to evaluate the applicants’ qualifications,” the City said in a release. “Finalists will then be granted stipends of $2,500 to propose designs, which the committee will evaluate. Interested artists can submit their documents via an online form.

Anyone with ideas, questions, or comments on the Melville project can email HermanMelvilleStatue@gmail.com.

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