Nantucket Whaling Museum

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The Nantucket Whaling Museum
Nantucket Whaling Museum interior 2015.jpg
Coordinates41°17′08″N 70°05′56″W / 41.285524°N 70.098941°W / 41.285524; -70.098941

The Nantucket Whaling Museum is a museum located in Nantucket, Massachusetts, dedicated to the history of whaling. It is run by the Nantucket Historical Association.


The museum houses a large collection of whaling artifacts and memorabilia, including a whaleboat, 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 the original use of part of the building as a candle factory, the museum also has exhibits regarding oil refining and candle making. The exhibited lever press, used to divide oil into different grades and extract spermaceti wax to make candles, is believed to be the only one of its kind still in its original location.[1]

Other exhibits include an 1849 Fresnel lens used in the Sankaty Head Light and the restored mechanism of the 1881 Nantucket town clock.


Part of the building which houses the Whaling Museum was originally a candle factory, built by the firm of Richard Mitchell and Son 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-nineteenth century, the building was used as warehouse space in the 1860s before being converted 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. The building opened as the Whaling Museum in 1929. It was restored and expanded into the present museum in 2005. The museum is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums.[2]


  1. ^ MacKinnon, Kim Foley. "A Whale of a Good Time in Nantucket". Go World Travel. Retrieved 2009-06-26.
  2. ^ Jensen, Cecil Barron. "Nantucket's New Whaling Museum". Nantucket Historical Association. Retrieved 2009-06-26.

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