Barbara Lobosco & Linley Pennebaker Whelan

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Linley Pennebaker Whelan, left, and Barbara Lobosco are the co-presidents of the Sag Harbor Whaling and Historical Museum. They spoke about some events at the museum this summer, and how it’s constantly evolving.
Linley Pennebaker Whelan, left, and Barbara Lobosco are the co-presidents of the Sag Harbor Whaling and Historical Museum. They spoke about some events at the museum this summer, and how it’s constantly evolving.

The Whaling Museum has seen quite a few changes in the past few years. Would you say that it has turned into more of an arts center than just a museum?

BL: We started a capital campaign, and got a grant three years ago to restore this building. So one whole room became our capital campaign room—we do a 50/50 with the artist—because the best way to raise those funds here is through the arts, and so that’s why you see that. But the museum has also moved into a very environmental thing as well, and we’re raising awareness about our communities and our oceans. It was whaling back in the 18thcentury, and now we’re working to save the whales. It’s all related. So it’s still the Whaling Museum, it’s still about the whaling, but it’s about the past and present and the historical significance of this village.

LPW: And of this building. The woman [Margaret Olivia Slocum Sage] that lived here was the richest woman in America, and her history is very interesting. I’m on the park board, and she also gave the park to the village. And the library. And her thinking was so great, she wanted it to be for all of the children of the community. The building itself is such a beauty, and we love that part of it.

BL: And I think we’re kind of trying to continue her legacy here. We’re keeping the history, but trying to move into the present as well.

LPW: And there are new people in the village, and we have to keep up with what they’re looking for and what they want. Our community’s changing a lot, so we have to be really high-end, we have to try. It’s not like we can leave this as a dusty museum that people come to once and then never go back to again. We’ve got to recognize this is a changing world, and we’ve got to get with it.

And I see that you’re diversifying to different marine species with your next art show: SHARK! The misunderstood fish.

LPW: Poor shark’s got a bad rap. Especially down in North Carolina right now, where people keep getting eaten.

BL: Well I think that’s more like their natural habitat down there, and you don’t really see those sharks going back for a second bite, I think they know what they want. But I’m really not an expert on it. But I have to tell you the gentleman who’s coming here to speak next weekend, Richard Ellis, is an expert on whales and sharks. He’s sort of like a legend, and we’re so lucky to have him.

And did you also have music last weekend?

LPW: Yes! We want to do music, we want to have films. We’re going to be screening “Jaws” and “Pirates of the Caribbean,” for our family night. This place just lends itself to it. Every level of creativity should be going on here.

BL: And we like to honor our cultural diversity here with the artists and speakers, and so we want to reach out to the whole community. In the last three years we’ve finished phase one of our reconstruction, but we need the public to know that we really need to raise funds. Everything looks like it’s done outside, but we still have a lot we have to repair. It’s hundreds and hundreds of thousands, but once you start, you just keep going. It’s a big task we’ve taken upon ourselves, I’m glad that we did. We want people to stop by and see what we’re doing.

LPW: We’re an evolving historic museum, if you can imagine that.

An opening reception for SHARK! The misunderstood fish will be held on Friday, July 10, at 6 p.m., with a special 40th anniversary screening of “Jaws” starting at 8 p.m.  The family picnic and screening of “Pirates of the Caribbean” will be held at 6 p.m. on Saturday, July 11, and Marine biologist and artist Richard Ellis will give a lecture on the misunderstood creatures at 10 a.m. on Sunday, July 12. For more information visit sagharborwhalingmuseum.org.

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