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  • Writer's pictureRobert Deuberry

Nantucket Museums and Historical Sites

Updated: Oct 24, 2020

Museums and Historical Sites

Nantucket Historical Association The Whaling Museum and 6 historic sites preserve and interpret the history of Nantucket.

Whaling Museum – The museum is in an original candle factory which was built by the Mitchell family immediately following Nantucket's Great Fire in 1846 and close to the end of the island's whaling era. Less than two years later, island businessmen William Hadwen and Nathaniel Barney purchased the manufactory and continued to operate it as a candle works until the end of whaling in the 1860s. The structure served as a warehouse until its conversion into the offices of the New England Steamship Company in the 1870s. In 1919, the candle works was outfitted to use as storage and housed an antiques shop. In 1929, the building was purchased and converted into the NHA's Whaling Museum, and remained as such for more than seventy years.

Restored in 2005, the Nantucket Whaling Museum features a restored 1847 candle factory, expanded top-quality exhibition space, a fully accessible rooftop observation deck overlooking Nantucket harbor, and the sperm whale skeleton.

In 2008, the whaling museum received accreditation from the American Association of Museums, an honor bestowed upon fewer than one of every twenty-two museums in the country.

Historic Sites

This collection of homes is owned by the Historical Association and are open to the public.

Fire Hose Cart House 8 Gardner Street • Built 1886, acquired 1960

Greater Light 8 Howard Street • Built c.1790 and remodeled 1930, acquired 1970

Hadwen House 96 Main Street • Built 1845, acquired 1965

NHA Research Library 7 Fair Street • Built as Fair Street Museum 1904, renovated 2000

Old Gaol 15R Vestal Street • Built 1806, acquired 1946

"Oldest House," Jethro Coffin House 16 Sunset Hill • Built 1686, acquired 1923

Old Mill 50 Prospect Street • Built 1746, acquired 1898

Quaker Meeting House 7 Fair Street • Built 1838, acquired 1894

1800 House 4 Mill Street • Built 1805, acquired 1951

Other Nantucket Museums

Nantucket Shipwreck & Lifesaving Museum Telling the story of the heroic life-savers whose motto was: "You have to go out - but you don't have to come back."

Nantucket Lighthouses Nantucket has three lighthouses, each with its own distinctive look, personality and history.

Egan Maritime Institute Advances the scholarly study and appreciation of the history, literature, art, and maritime traditions of Nantucket

Maria Mitchell Association Museums, aquarium, observatories and environmental education through walks, workshops and classes for students of all ages on Nantucket.

Lightship Basket Museum "Weaving Nantucket's past to its future." Featuring historic and contemporary lightship baskets in exhibits, demonstrations, lectures

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