THE NEW BEDFORD Whaling Museum's new $6.5 million Wattles Jacobs Education Center will provide 3,000 square feet of new classroom space for the museum's structured school programming. Above, a rendering of the new addition, which totals 17,000 square feet.
NEW BEDFORD – The New Bedford Whaling Museum broke ground Monday on a new 17,000-square-foot education center and research library.
The campaign to build the $6.5 million Wattles Jacobs Education Center is the museum’s most significant capital project since the construction of the Historic Bourne Building in 1916, the museum said in a statement Tuesday. The four-floor building will connect to the existing museum campus.
More than 280 dignitaries, trustees, donors, volunteers, staff and students attended the groundbreaking ceremony for the center, which was named in honor of the building’s top funders, the Wattles and Jacobs families.
“Through the new center, the museum is positioning itself to make major advances in its ability to preserve, transmit and disseminate, through education, much of the knowledge in its library and in its collection,” said Gurdon B. Wattles, trustee of the New Bedford Whaling Museum. “We are most appreciative to the many supporters who have joined in this effort.”
The center, scheduled to open in summer 2015, will house new classrooms, a high-tech reading room, climate-controlled storage vaults for the Whaling Museum’s collection, a laboratory for its youth apprenticeship program, and a multi-use assembly space.
Currently, more than 12,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade from across New England participate in structured school programs at the Whaling Museum each year. The Wattles Jacobs Education Center will provide 3,000 square feet of new classroom space, more than quadrupling the Whaling Museum’s existing classroom space.
“Joan and I strongly support the Whaling Museum’s new Education Center, a key addition which will enhance the collection and bring education, research and tourism benefits to the region,” said Irwin M. Jacobs, member of the New Bedford Whaling Museum Advisory Council. “We invite the community to join the many benefactors committed to a timely completion of this exciting project.”