The Whalers’ Museum

In 1987 the last Sperm whale was caught in the Azores, by the same traditional process prior to the memorable times of Moby Dick, still using the hand harpoon and lance. The memory of this activity, however, has been preserved in the old stories of the last whalers, whom the poet Almeida Firmino called "Nameless heroes, having one foot landed, the other still at sea" (Ilha Maior, 1968).
The first exhibition of a collection on the subject of whaling was displayed in a provisional building in 1979. It was the realization of a dream dating back to 1968 With the official opening of the Museum, installed in the present structures, in August 1988, the Government of the Azores paid a long-deserved tribute to our whaler. This was a decisive step towards the preservation of the memory of an activity which greatly shaped the islanders' lifestyle for over a century.
The Whalers' Museum includes the three original nineteenth-century boat houses, the restored iron-works and a new area designed to house the library. Opposite this main structure a try-works was rebuilt. The plan for the reconstruction of the building, which was highly commended by the Association of Portuguese Architects and the State Secretary of Culture in 1993, was conceived by the architect Paulo Gouveia. The Museum library, specialized in the whaling theme, offers a wide range of reference books and documents fundamental to the research on whaling. In the small auditorium you can also watch some films on whaling in the Azores.
Carlos Luz