Nantucket once was the capital of the whaling industry, and the island’s history is told in this fabulous museum. Beginning with the native Wampanoags to the whaling industry that brought worldwide fame and fortune, to the island’s Great Fire of 1846 and it’s rebirth as a summer vacation resort, the museum is filled with videos, artifacts, displays and artwork. Visit if just to see the 46-foot sperm whale skeleton (he was just a baby when he washed up on the shores of Nantucket). A Discovery Room provides hands-on, interactive activities for children.
The entire island centers around its whaling history, with many of the islanders spending years at see hunting sperm whales for oil. These men risked life and limb, while their wives and children stayed at home, hoping for their safe return. “Moby Dick” was inspired by a true tale of a sperm whale that attacked and eventually sank a whaling boat. The oil of the whale was so valuable, every last drop was taken. This meant young boys and the smallest men were even lowered into the heads of sperm walls, to scoop out the oil. There are whales of tales at this museum, and if you visit the island this summer, definitely make a point to stop in.
In the winter months, the museum closes between Jan. 1 and mid-Feb. and reopens for only weekends until April. From April through end of May, hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. From Memorial Day weekend through end of October, hours extend from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Hours return to 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in November, but extend an additional two hours during Thanksgiving week. In December, hours are mainly weekends, with the exception of Christmas break, when it reopens daily.
Adults are $20, Seniors and students are $18. Kids ages 6 to 17 are $5. Children under 6 are free.