By Robin Slick, Published Friday

Not Just a Beach Destination - Museums on the Grey Lady!

Nantucket is more than a beach and biking vacation destination. While your here, it's worthwhile to carve out a little time to visit a local museum or two, taking the opportunity to learn about the island's historic importance.

Most visitors are familiar with the very popular Whaling Museum located in Town, but in case you are not one of them, and would like to find out more about Nantucket's whaling history, read 7 Reasons to Visit the Whaling Museum

IMG_3561Not to be missed is the Museum Shop where you can find unique gifts and keepsakes.

So now that you know about the Whaling Museum, here are three other museums worth a visit. These museums are open primarily in-season, however, they do host special events throughout the year, so make sure to check their calendars.

The Nantucket Shipwreck & Lifesaving Museum 


About a 10 minute drive out of Town down the Polpis Road, you find the Shipwreck & Lifesaving Museum, situated on a beautiful marsh which doubles as a perfect picnic spot. Here you have the opportunity to learn about the history of the island’s shipwrecked past. Dense fog, hidden shoals, and unpredictable weather led to hundreds of shipwrecks off the coast of Nantucket throughout the 1800s. Stories of brave islanders who worked to rescue men lost at sea are told at the museum. 

The museum has both changing and permanent exhibitions geared to adults and children of all ages. According to their website, "permanent exhibits are devoted to the history of Nantucket lifesaving; famous shipwrecks and rescues; life-saving equipment; the daily routine at a life-saving station; and the workings of the United States Coast Guard in modern day."

Additionally, the museum offers kids a playground with a buoy swing set, a ship’s rigging rope climbing wall, knot tying boards and in the summer, weekly children’s programs.

Nantucket Lightship Basket Museum


Just a 5 minute walk from Town, the Lightship Basket Museum is dedicated to preserving Nantucket’s history of basket making as an art and provides a home for their permanent exhibit of Nantucket lightship baskets. The collection includes the works of noted basket makers from the pre-lightship era through current day contemporary artists. 


Susan Chase Ottison Coin Purse, 3” Change Purse - This covered basket has an antique ivory carving of daffodils carved by Nancy Chase. The basket was made for Jean McAusland, founder of the Nantucket Daffodil Day Parade and donated to the museum in 2002.

Maria Mitchell Aquarium & Loines Observatory

In addition to the well-known aquarium and observatory, the Maria Mitchell Association (MMA) also includes a Natural Science Museum and the Mitchell House itself. Founded in 1902, MMA preserves the legacy of this Nantucket native astronomer, naturalist, librarian, and, educator. Miss Mitchell, one of the world’s first female astronomers, believed in “learning by doing” and today that philosophy is reflected in MMA’s mission statement, programs and research projects. 



In Town, along the Nantucket Harbor, the aquarium houses local Nantucket species (released back into the wild at the end of the season) and boasts as being THE place to learn about local sea life. Highlights for children are the touch tanks and outdoor circle tank.

Loines Observatory


Built in 1968 and 1998, the two domes house an antique 8-inch Clark telescope and a new 24-inch research telescope. The observatory engages in active research and serves as a venue for astronomical programs open to the public all year round. Offered are hands-on workshops, lectures, and special observational programs.

For more information about Nantucket museums or other attractions to visit while vacationing on the ACK, contact the Team at Congdan and Coleman Real Estate who are ready to help!

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Robin Slick

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