Nantucket museums make up an important aspect of the overall cultural tradition and history of the island. They cover a relatively broad range of subjects and fields, but several focus on the seafaring and marine history of the island. Nantucket Island has a history of being an important stop for whalers and fishermen and these were the main industries by which the industry subsisted for years. Now these industries have largely been replaced by tourism as the main source of revenue, but the museums on the island remain to celebrate the rich cultural past. Places like the Nantucket Whaling Museum and the Egan Maritime Institute are constant reminders of the seafaring tradition of Nantucket Island.
Nantucket Whaling Museum
This unique destination celebrates the whaling tradition on Nantucket Island and was converted into a museum in 1929. Beforehand, it served as a candle factory and a warehouse. The building was restored in 2005. There are many engaging displays at the Nantucket Whaling Museum, from a nearly 50-foot long sperm whale skeleton to a gorgeously refurbished 1849 Fresnel lens that was at one time used in the Sankaty Head Lighthouse, one of the lighthouses on the island. There are paintings and portraits, items from the sea, artifacts, and enough information to keep people interested in the sea enthralled for hours. The reasonable admission charge is well worth the experience you are sure to enjoy at this museum in Nantucket. During the peak months of mid-May through the beginning of October, the museum is generally open between the hours of noon and 4 p.m.
Nantucket Lightship Basket Museum
Lightship baskets are a distinctive part of the island’s artistic past. These particular kinds of baskets are unique to Nantucket Island. The museum preserves the tradition and offers workshops, demonstrations, lessons, and more. The museum is located at 49 Union Street and is open late May through early October, Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Egan Maritime Institute
The Egan Maritime Institute is a museum where the sole focus is the seafaring past of Nantucket Island. Here you will find hundreds of paintings that celebrate this tradition as well as the people who took part in the industry. It is housed at the historic Coffin School, a Greek Revival building constructed in 1854. Visiting this museum is a great way to take an intimate look at the industry that made this island successful and the traditions that make it so distinctive.
The Natural Science Museum
The Natural Science Museum is located at the corner of Milk and Vestal Streets in the Hinchman House and is a great attraction for families on vacations. This is a museum that is geared toward teaching children in a variety of disciplines that have to do with the natural sciences. Any parent who is visiting Nantucket Island with their kids, and wish to give them a fun and educational experience, should look into an afternoon at the Natural Science Museum.
There are several other interesting Nantucket museums on the island that are definitely worth investigating for yourself to see if you are interested in paying a visit. These museums include the Afro-American History Museum and the Nantucket Shipwreck and Lifesaving Museum.