CURRENT EXHIBITIONS
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Architectural Legacies: The NHA's Historic Sites

Whitney Gallery, NHA Research Library, 7 Fair Street
Open Through Spring 2015

This new exhibition at the NHA Whitney Gallery highlights Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) drawings of key island historic sites, including the Oldest House, Old Mill, Old Gaol, Hadwen House, and more. Each drawing provides a glimpse into a different architectural period and chronicles Nantucket’s dynamic architectural past.


Nantucket Cottage Style: Drawing Inspiration from the
Oates-Euler Collection

Whaling Museum
April 25-November 15, 2014

In the 1960s, Nantucket experienced a seminal influx of artists and artisans that rejuvenated the art colony born on the island fifty years earlier. Collectors Andrew Oates and William Euler were at the heart of this transformative period. Andy and Bill's vision for a "life well lived"—epitomized by decades of collecting crafts and fine arts—fueled an island lifestyle based on the beauty and simplicity of cottage-style living. A collaboration between the Artists Association of Nantucket and the Nantucket Historical Association.


The Artists Association of Nantucket and the Nantucket Historical Association are pleased to thank the following for their generous support of this exhibition:

Master Weaver
Charina Endowment Fund
Nantucket Looms

Instructor Weaver
Annie Bissinger, in honor of Ellie & Gerry
Osceola Foundation

Apprentice Weaver
The Albert G. Brock Company, Inc.
Deborah & Lawrence Gaslow
Bryan S. Gilchrist
Murray's Toggery Shop
Neil Paterson Landscaping, Inc.

Novice Weaver
Arbella Insurance Group
Lindsay, Inc.


“For Love of the Island:”
Nantucket Conservation Foundation’s 50th Anniversary

Overlook Gallery, Nantucket Whaling Museum, 13 Broad Street
Open Through Fall 2014

“For Love of the Island” celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of the Nantucket Conservation Foundation and its extraordinary work of protecting and caring for Nantucket’s precious open spaces. Presented as a collaboration between the Nantucket Historical Association and the Nantucket Conservation Foundation, the exhibition will showcase the remarkable success of the NCF and its sister organizations in conserving close to half of the island’s acreage as open space. The exhibition will feature an island map showing the most recently updated view of protected spaces: historic photography of open land along with work by contemporary photographers Cary Hazlegrove, Rob Benchley, Dan Sutherland, and Terry Pommett; historic cranberry harvesting equipment (rakes and scoops); and a John Austin painting of the cranberry harvest. Copies of the 2013 Mill Hill Press commemorative book For Love of the Island—edited by Dick Duncan with essays by Peter Brace, Ben Simons, Betsy Tyler, and others—will be available at the Museum Shop.



Premiere
Lost on a Reef: Nantucket Whaleship Two Brothers

The Whaling Museum presents the world premiere exhibition of material from the wreck of the Nantucket whaleship Two Brothers, the final chapter in former Essex Captain George Pollard Jr.’s ill-fated seafaring career.

Offered in collaboration with NOAA, the exhibition Lost on a Reef presents findings and artifacts from nearly two years of survey and research by maritime archaeologists from NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries on the shipwreck site of the Nantucket whaleship Two Brothers, wrecked on a stormy night at French Frigate Shoals in the northwestern Hawaiian Islands on
February 11, 1823.

More information on The Two Brothers.



Hadwen & Barney Oil & Candle Factory and the Nantucket Corner

With 20,000 artifacts in the NHA collections, we are proud to say that a full 10% of the museum’s collections were on display in 2011(twice the national average for museums). However, with a goal of having even more of the collections on display, we added an artifact-rich display in the Hadwen & Barney building this year, loading the walls and rafters with fascinating items that, until now, have been in storage in the collections.

These items address major themes of Nantucket history: Boom & Bust, Diverse Peoples, Business & Commerce, Island Characters, Intellectual History, and more. The Hadwen & Barney exhibition features newly commissioned illustrations by the author and illustrator team of Mark and Gerald Foster (of Whale Port fame) showing in vivid style exactly “how it worked” in the refinery. The Fosters have created a large bird’s-eye view of the whole facility and the refining process, along with detailed illustrations of the oil lever press (“beam press”) and the seasonal oil refining and candlemaking process.

The public will learn, in accessible graphic detail, how the building functioned as a working factory, something that has been cloaked in obscurity until now. Visitors will feast their eyes on a rich visual tapestry of artifacts from the collections installed lavishly in the spacious enclosure of the large brick factory, in the tradition of the Mercer Museum in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, and other object-rich displays around the world.

Another highlight is a vignette of a “Nantucket Attic” created in the rafters of the factory, evoking the great tradition of treasures housed in attic spaces and home museums on island.


The former Island Home Gallery has been reborn as the Nantucket Corner. The space offers a relaxing atmosphere for visitors to settle into comfortable couches and corner chairs and delve into the deep historical resources of the Nantucket Historical Association. Visitors are surrounded by precious whaling logs, first editions of Moby-Dick, and other treasures while exploring all the NHA collections through digital databases, enjoying oral histories and videos and reading digitized whaling logs first hand. the Nantucket Corner offers a portal to the NHA’s broader resources, especially the rich holdings of the Research Library as well as the historic properties, the 1800 House arts and crafts classes, and other areas of the organization’s programs and collections.


Permanent Exhibitions at the Whaling Museum

Sperm Whale
Whaling Museum
13 Broad Street

Perhaps the most dramatic installation of a whale skeleton ever displayed. Diving from the ceiling-mouth open, teeth menacing-is the skeleton of a forty-six foot male sperm whale. The beauty and wonder of being this close to the skeleton is breathtaking, and many of our visitors have told us just that.

 

Souvenir Gallery
Whaling Museum
13
Broad Street

Nantucket conducted its greatest trade in the eighteenth century with England and Europe; at the end of the century, Nantucketers traveled to China for trade and brought back many outstanding souvenirs.

As the reach of Nantucket whaling pressed beyond the Atlantic, Nantucketers rounded the Horn into the Pacific Ocean and passed the Cape of Good Hope into the Indian Ocean.

Nantucket captains and merchants discovered a new market for seal fur and other products in Canton and Hong Kong, China. The men brought home exotic artifacts and keepsakes from the South Seas as curiosities and mementos of their travels.

With the whaling economy devastated by the Revolutionary War, island captains and merchants initiated direct economic ties to Canton. They traded sealskins gathered in the islands off the coast of South America and the South Pacific as well as New England ginseng for Chinese export goods like porcelain, tea, silk, and souvenirs. Nantucket households soon displayed exotic furnishings from the Chinese export market.

Nantucket whalers were among the first sailors to explore the Pacific Ocean and to discover many of the islands and peoples of the South Pacific. Some of the featured items from the South Pacific are a rare model of a Maori war canoe; a warrior's sharkskin body armor; a Hawaiian tribal necklace made of whale tooth and hair; and a New Ireland dancing mask made of moss, seaweed, and grass.

Captain's Portraits
Whaling Museum
13 Broad Street

Oil portraiture carried the day in the period before the invention of the photographic process in the mid-nineteenth century. This period corresponded with the heyday of whaling on Nantucket, as well as with a loosening of Quaker strictures against the vanity of images and portraits. Wealthy whaling captains and merchants were eager to have their portraits painted, often by itinerant portrait artists who visited the island and advertised studio time. Many of these artists, such as William Swain and James Hathaway, spent so much time on the island that they managed to capture a large number of the most notable whaling captains of the era, and occasionally their wives and children. A wall in Gosnell Hall displays a large range of portraits of the men and women who went to sea.

Scrimshaw Gallery
Whaling Museum
13
Broad Street

Scrimshaw is the art of engraving images on ivory - whale teeth and bone and walrus tusks - a folk art practiced by men aboard whaleships during the nineteenth century. During long voyages, whalers would often turn to scrimshanding as a way to pass time and as an outlet for their creative energies. Sailors made scrimshaw in an amazing variety, including decorative objects, utilitarian devices, and jewelry. It is one of the earliest recognized American crafts and remains one of the most highly desired forms of folk art for collectors of Americana.

The scrimshaw in the collection of the Nantucket Historical Association is the result of over a century and a half of passionate collecting, and is considered one of the most important collections in the world. Highlights of the collection include some of the earliest and rarest sperm whale teeth, engraved by the most famous of all scrimshaw artists, Nantucketers Frederick Myrick and Edward Burdett; outstanding examples of teeth by the anonymous scrimshaw hands known as the Ceres Artisan, the Banknote Engraver, the Naval Battle Captain; and dozens of the finest-quality teeth, many with direct Nantucket provenances. In addition to the superb collection of teeth, every aspect of the scrimshander's art is represented in the collection, including dazzling specimens of swifts, busks, canes, jagging wheels, coconut-shell dippers, ditty boxes, furniture, tools, Arctic ivory, and plaques.

Decorative Arts Gallery
Whaling Museum
13
Broad Street

Next to the scrimshaw gallery is a display of the some of the finest objects in the NHA's decorative-arts collection. Presented in an airy open space, visitors hardly notice that this is one of the highest quality climate-controlled spaces in the museum. Instead, they enjoy the wonders the NHA's lightship basket collection, framed needlework pieces, and whimsical whirligigs in a room with a meticulously hand-painted floor by island artisan Christina Wiggins.

The Decorative Arts Gallery is also a perfect place to stop and view the wonders of the architectural design. From one corner in the gallery, visitors can look through three windows and catch three unique views encompassing a great expanse of Nantucket history. First, through the fanlight, people can peer out onto South Water Street and contemplate the lively hustle and bustle of our island community. Next they can peek through a round window, reminiscent of a ship's porthole. Through this small pane of glass they can see the Fresnel lens, which once operated on whale oil, and beyond it, the Candle Factory. A larger rectangular window, holding the basket collection, invites viewers to take another look at the Town Clock and past the central stairway to Gosnell Hall and the spine of the sperm-whale skeleton.

Hadwen-Barney Candle Factory
Whaling Museum
13
Broad Street

An integral component of the museum, the 1847 spermaceti-candle factory has been carefully restored to reveal significant elements of the original factory, including the two-story beam press - the only original beam press still in place in the world - and the foundation of the oil-processing tryworks.