Whaling Museum opens new park & exhibition honoring Captain Paul Cuffe - Sept 21

Sep 12

Story Location:
New Bedford Whaling Museum
18 Johnny Cake Hill
New Bedford  Massachusetts  02740
United States

Ribbon-cutting and Exhibition Opening - September 21

The New Bedford Whaling Museum will officially open the newly-completed expansion of Captain Paul Cuffe Park with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday, September 21 at 4:30 pm. An exhibition titled “Captain Paul Cuffe: His Work, Vision, and Living Legacy” will open immediately following the park’s ribbon cutting. The park and exhibition honor the history and legacy of one of New Bedford’s most remarkable figures, Captain Paul Cuffe (1759-1817). The park is located at the corner of Johnny Cake Hill and Union Street in New Bedford adjacent to the Whaling Museum’s Wattles Jacobs Education Center. The Cuffe Park and exhibition openings are free and open to the public. For information visit www.whalingmuseum.org or call 508-997-0046.

Cuffe was a Quaker businessman, sea captain, patriot, and abolitionist who lived on the SouthCoast of Massachusetts. Born on Cuttyhunk Island, he was of Wampanoag and Ashanti descent and helped colonize Sierra Leone. Cuffe built a lucrative shipping empire and established the first racially integrated school in Westport, Massachusetts. He rose to prominence to become one of the wealthiest men of color in the nation. His petition to protest taxation of people of color while withholding the right to vote was an important step in granting full citizenship rights in Massachusetts and he was one of the first black men to have a formal meeting with a sitting U.S. president.

To honor his legacy, the Whaling Museum established Captain Paul Cuffe Park in 2011 near the site where he operated his store, Cuffe & Howards. The construction of the Wattles Jacobs Education Center, which opened in 2015, afforded the opportunity to expand Cuffe Park and elevate this tribute to Cuffe’s regional impact as a prominent merchant, community leader, and advocate of equal rights.

The new design was approved by the New Bedford and Massachusetts Historical Commissions and quadruples the footprint of the park, which now incorporates interpretive outdoor exhibits developed in collaboration with an advisory committee. A slate of educational programming surrounding Cuffe and his legacy is planned for this fall.