Nantucket Whaling Museum
|The Nantucket Whaling Museum|
The museum houses a large collection of whaling artifacts and memorabilia, including longboats, harpoons, and scrimshaw, but the centerpiece is the complete skeleton of a 46-foot (14 meter) bull Sperm whale suspended from the ceiling. True to its original use as a candle factory, the museum also has exhibits regarding that trade as well. The exhibited beam press (used to extract oil from the spermaceti to make candles) is the only one in the world still in its original location.
The building which currently houses the Whaling Museum was originally a candle factory, built by the Mitchell family shortly after Nantucket's Great Fire of 1846. Two years later, it was purchased by local businessmen William Hadwen and Nathaniel Barney, who continued to use it in the manufacture of candles. Following the decline of whaling in the mid-19th century, the building was converted to warehouse space in 1860 before being reconverted into offices for the New England Steamship Company in the 1870s. In 1919, the building was again used for storage and also housed an antiques shop. In 1929, the museum was created and then fully restored in 2005. In 2008, the museum became accredited by the American Alliance of Museums.
- Nathaniel Philbrick, author and research fellow at the Nantucket Historical Association