Kendall Whaling Museum

The Kendall Whaling Museum Archive contains documents, publications and photographs related to the history of the Kendall Whaling Museum in Sharon. The museum was founded in 1955 by Henry P. Kendall, who had been collecting whaling-related materials since the 1920s. He purchased the property of the former Sharon Sanatorium (founded as the Sharon Sanitarium for Pulmonary Diseases in 1891) and turned its Children’s Pavilion into a museum. The Kendall Whaling Museum officially opened in 1956, and grew in its facilities, collections, activities, and reputation for the next 45 years. It boasted a fine, eclectic international collection of whaling-related artworks, artifacts, tools and equipment, vessel logbooks, manuscripts, and photographs, as well as an ample research library. The museum sponsored a variety of events, including annual Whaling History Symposia and Scrimshaw Collectors’ Weekends. It offered a respected training program for student interns, hosted many school groups, and drew visitors and scholars from around the world.

The Kendall Whaling Museum operated in Sharon through November 2001, when it closed its doors to the public and began the process of giving its collections to the New Bedford Whaling Museum. When this process was completed, the museum trustees donated the majority of the property to the Trustees of Reservations. The main museum building at 27 Everett Street, Sharon (formerly the Children’s Pavilion of the Sharon Sanatorium) is now the property of The Trustees of Reservations and serves as its Archives and Research Center. The former museum Scholars’ Quarters at 21 Everett Street, originally the Matron’s Building of the Sanatorium, is owned and rented out by the Trustees of Reservations as a private residence. The former Kendall Doll Museum at 23 Everett Street, later the museum’s Education Center (originally the X-Ray Pavilion of the Sanatorium) was retained, and now houses the Norfolk Charitable Trust (NCT) Archive.

The Kendall Whaling Museum Archive includes:

  • Museum newsletters, 1983-2001, with index
  • Announcements and programs of events, including lectures, films and the annual Whaling History Symposium and Scrimshaw Collectors’ Weekend
  • Kendall Whaling Monographs and other publications of the museum and its staff members
  • Land and building plans and documentation, including plans for various building renovations
  • Press releases and press clips about the museum
  • Financial reports
  • Miscellaneous memos, reports and correspondence
  • Catalogues and inventories of collections and exhibits
  • Educational materials and exhibit guides
  • Doll Museum records
  • The sale catalogue of Doll Museum holdings
  • Photographs of museum galleries, exhibits and events
  • Kendall Whaling Museum signage
  • Photographs of the Sharon Sanatorium from the early 20th century
  • A few Sharon Sanatorium records. (Most are in the archives of Children’s Hospital, Boston)
  • The X-ray machine of the Sharon Sanatorium
Modern Whaling Gallery
Dutch Gallery
Brewington Gallery
School program with inflatable whale
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