Stove by a Whale: 20 Men, 3 Boats, 96 Days
McCausland Gallery, Whaling Museum, 13 Broad Street
April 24, 2015 through March 31, 2017

It’s November 1820, and the crew of the whaleship Essex take to their boats after an enraged sperm whale destroys their ship. Follow twenty sailors as they attempt to sail thousands of miles across the Pacific to safety with limited food and water. Along the way, learn about Nantucket in its whaling heyday and visit islands in the Pacific. See how the survivors’ tragic tale has been retold time and again in classic sea stories, in Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick, and in the contemporary film In the Heart of the Sea.

What a View!
Nantucket Through the Stereoscope

Whitney Gallery, NHA Research Library, 7 Fair Street
Open May 27, 2016 through
February 2017

Stereographs, an early form of three-dimensional photographs, were a major vehicle for popular education and entertainment in the latter part of the nineteenth century. Displaying highlights from the NHA’s collection of over 700 stereographs, this exhibition explores both traditional and modern viewing techniques of this early 3D technology.

New Arrivals, New Voices
Nantucket Corner, Whaling Museum, 13 Broad Street
Open November 16, 2014 through Fall 2016

Opening in conjunction with the 2014 NHA Diversity Festival, New Arrivals, New Voices invites visitors to consider the history of diversity on Nantucket, from the days of the Wampanoags to the days of tourism. In this exhibit, visitors will see how English settlers in the seventeenth-century; Azorean mariners in the nineteenth; and El Salvadoran, Bulgarian, Thai, and Nepalese families today met the common challenges of learning a new language, making a living, and finding a place to live.

At the heart of the new exhibit lies an oral-histories project spearheaded by Obed Macy Research Chair Betsy Tyler called New Voices: Nantucket’s Diverse Immigrant Populations, supported by a grant from Mass Humanities, the state-based affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. After over a year of collecting stories of recent Nantucket immigrants, the NHA will share them via a touch-screen computer.

Two-minute excerpts from nine recently collected oral histories of immigrants from countries such as Brazil, Bulgaria, El Salvador, Lithuania, Mexico, Philippines, and Thailand are on the NHA YouTube channel.

The Coffin School: A Gift of Education
Mezzanine Gallery, Whaling Museum, 13 Broad Street
February 27 through November 20, 2016

English Admiral Sir Isaac Coffin visited Nantucket just once, in 1826, but his visit led to the creation of a school that educated generations of Nantucket children. To mark the 190th anniversary of the admiral’s trip, the NHA invites visitors to come see the striking portrait of the admiral painted by Gilbert Stuart; the journal of Henry Clapp Jr., written aboard the school’s early American training ship, and samples of work from a century and a half of student achievement.


Characters and Collections: Island Novelties and the Early Years of Nantucket Tourism
Whitney Gallery, NHA Research Library, 7 Fair Street
Open May 22, 2015 through May 6, 2016

In the years following the Civil War, many Nantucketers turned to their history as whalers, Quakers, and world travelers to attract visitors and build a new tourist economy. Explore the quirky characters, cabinets of curiosities, and museum collections that showcased the oddities and treasures of the island during the first flowering of tourism on Nantucket.



“The Mighty Misty Monster”: Moby-Dick Embroidered Narratives
Mezzanine Gallery, Whaling Museum, 13 Broad Street
Open April 11–November 22, 2015

Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick and its endless possibilities for interpretation inspire artist Susan Boardman’s latest series of embroidered narratives. Drawing on the tradition of illuminated manuscripts, Boardman has adapted the techniques of seventeenth-century raised embroideries to depict richly animated whaleboats, frothy waves, proud ships, and noble, mighty whales.



Architectural Legacies: The NHA's Historic Sites

Whitney Gallery, NHA Research Library, 7 Fair Street
Open May 23, 2013–April 26, 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.

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

Overlook Gallery, Nantucket Whaling Museum, 13 Broad Street
Open June 1, 2013–March 28, 2015

“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.

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.

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.

John Austin: One Artist's Nantucket

Whitney Gallery, NHA Research Library, 7 Fair Street
Spring 2013–March 28, 2014

Island artist John Austin's photo-realist paintings captured the laid-back Nantucket of the 1970s and '80s. His remarkable body of work in tempera and other media ranges from classic views of Steamboat Wharf, the lighthouses, beaches, and shorelines of Nantucket, to quirky subjects like the wrecked vehicles.

Exhibiting for over thirty years at Reggie Levine's Main Street Gallery, Austin was collected by locals, summer visitors, and the likes of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Mrs. Paul Mellon.

An exhibition featuring works from the collections of the Nantucket Historical Association and the Artists Association of Nantucket Permanent Collection.

Nantucket Legends: Foggy Facts and Fictions

McCausland Gallery, Whaling Museum
April 26–November 10, 2013

Walk down Main Street on a busy August afternoon, and you'll likely overhear someone telling a story about Nantucket's history—a tale of the day a sea serpent visited the island, or how Main Street came to be paved with cobblestones. This summer, the Nantucket Historical Association will explore some of the tales—those rooted in documented history and those of fantasy—that are integral to how the island community understands its history and presents Nantucket to the world. Nantucket Legends: Foggy Facts and Fictions will take a close look at some of Nantucket's colorful stories, including the first Nantucket tea party, R. H. Macy's red star tattoo, Tony Sarg's sea serpent hoax, and the origin of roof walks on Nantucket houses, Folger's Coffee, and Nantucket Reds. Visitors to the exhibit will learn that it isn't always possible to distinguish fact from fiction, but that stories told about the events, places, and people of Nantucket change over time to reflect the identity and interests of the storyteller.

Spring 2012 through Spring 2013

Nantucket In The Civil War

In the wake of the whaling industry's collapse, Nantucketers responded with heroic dedication to the call for volunteers to support the Union in the Civil War.

Even in the face of pacifist island traditions, nearly 400 Nantucket men enlisted in defense of the Union forces, with 73 ultimately giving their lives in the war. Dozens of repurposed whaling vessels, including the Nantucket whaleship Potomac, were put into service in the Stone Fleet, sunk by Union forces in Savannah and Charleston harbors to create blockades of Confederate vessels. Other whaleships were destroyed by Confederate raiders near the end of the war.

After war was declared in 1861, Nantucket established a militia known as the Island Guard, associated with the Twentieth Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. Recruits to the "Bloody 20th"—or "Harvard Regiment"—were led by the charismatic George Nelson Macy, whose home was at 123 Main Street. Macy and his fellow islanders would see action at many of the pivotal engagements of the war, from Fredericksburg to Gettysburg. As Brevet Major General, Macy would also attain the highest rank of any Nantucketer.

After the conflict, Nantucket veterans from the 20th Mass., 45th Mass., and other regiments, proudly served in the Thomas M. Gardner Post of the Grand Army of the Republic, holding annual memorial celebrations of their contributions to the defense of the Union.

Spring 2011 through Fall 2012

Eastman Johnson and His Contemporaries

Maxey's Pond Nantucket,
by John Alexander MacDougall Jr., close friend and student of
Eastman Johnson

Major nineteenth-century genre painter, portraitist, and chronicler of American life, Eastman Johnson first visited Nantucket in 1869, and soon took up seasonal residence on island, purchasing a home and artist studio on North Road (now Cliff Road) in the area known as The Cliff—on the North Shore facing Nantucket Sound. The artist's island sojourns would inspire some of his most enduring works, including his masterpiece, The Cranberry Harvest, Island of Nantucket (1880).

With the completion of The Cranberry Harvest, the artist turned his attention to portraiture, taking advantage of the community of grizzled veterans of the sea who haunted Nantucket in the twilight of the nineteenth century. Living on The Cliff surrounded by neighbors who included retired mariners, civic officials, and practicing artists, Johnson used many of his new island acquaintances as the subjects of his paintings.

During the post-whaling era of the 1870s–90s, other prominent American artists were drawn to Nantucket for its antiquated charm and picturesque vistas. Major contemporaries of Johnson's such as George Inness and William Trost Richards visited the island— joining the ranks of Nantucket-descended talents such as W. Ferdinand Macy, as well as Johnson's friend and neighbor John Alexander MacDougall Jr.—in portraying the island's lush natural settings, interesting characters, and alluring seascapes and landscapes.

In the Fields (Study for the Cranberry Pickers) by J. Eastman Johnson

Summer 2011 through Fall 2012

Nantucket's Cabinet of Curiosities: A to Z

Inspired by Nantucket's early museums, especially the original "Fair Street Rooms," the Nantucket’s Cabinet of Curiosities: A to Z exhibition showcases iconic curios, oddities, and other island treasures from the NHA collections, presenting an encapsulated "A to Z" overview of Nantucket history.

Such curios as the model of the Nantucket Camels; the bell from the railroad engine Dionis; the tiller of the whaleship Lima; the famous wax doll of Louis XVII, Dauphin of France, brought back by a Nantucket captain; and many more items will be taken from storage and placed on display for the first time in years.

Another exciting component of the exhibition are movies from old Nantucket, including footage from the 1930s to 1950s playing on an antique television in a 1950s living room setting. Visitors will have a chance to enter Josiah Freeman's Photo Studio and have their portrait taken, to smell spermaceti and ambergris, to color a copy of the Tony Sarg Alphabet Book with their children and families; to send a Nantucket postcard to friends; and, most enjoyable, to revisit the model of the Nantucket Railroad first displayed in 2008.

Spring 2010 through Winter 2011

A Passion for People: 40 Years of Nantucket Portrait Photography by Beverly Hall

A Passion for People showcases photographer Beverly Hall’s outstanding eye for portraiture through four decades of Nantucket history. The retrospective opens a window into the remarkable changes that have occurred on Nantucket in the last four decades, and the evolution and resilience of the individuals and families who have lived through those times. To present the full scope of Hall’s work, the exhibition features several hundred images on multiple presentation screens in addition to traditionally framed images. Organized by categories, the screens allow visitors to enjoy individual topics, such as “Characters,” presenting her remarkable images of Madaket Millie and Mr. Rogers, or “Artists,” highlighting the gallery scene on South Wharf in the 1970s and beyond. Hall’s work captures an important chapter in Nantucket’s postwar history, a time which it is increasingly important to record and showcase as part of Nantucket’s modern history. The exhibition was accompanied by a Brown Bag lecture by Beverly Hall; and a series of gallery talks by the artist in 2010.

Visit to see Beverly's photos and read about her philosophy.

Summer/Autumn 2010

“Sometimes think of me”: Notable Nantucket Women through the Centuries
Embroidered Narratives by Susan Boardman with biographies by Betsy Tyler

If you missed the exhibit, visit the Digital Exhibit.

The Nantucket Historical Association proclaimed 2010 "The Year of the Nantucket Woman" and offered many related exhibits and programs. The year's major exhibition, “Sometimes think of me”: Notable Nantucket Women through the Centuries, focused on the colorful lives of thirty two outstanding women across four centuries of Nantucket history and was the NHA’s first large-scale exhibition exploring the history of the island’s remarkable women.

Needlework artist Susan Boardman illustrated the women's stories in her “embroidered narratives,” amazingly detailed, hand-stitched pictorials that tell a story about each woman. Boardman's textile narratives are rooted in Nantucket's maritime traditions, where school girls captured daily life in their stitched samplers and where whalers added poetry and illustrations to their standard whaling log entries of weather conditions, location and number of whales killed.

Boardman's work has grown to encompass a history-in-brief of the women of Nantucket from the earliest Native American period to contemporary times. Each narrative was displayed in lively detail using the NHA’s rich collections of artifacts, logbooks, and manuscript material.

In Sometimes Think of me the island's fascinating and inspiring subjects included: the Wampanoag maiden Wonoma; whaling wife and journal keeper Eliza Brock; whaling wife and journal illustrator Susan Veeder; scientist Maria Mitchell; abolitionist Eunice Ross; as well as many contemporary Nantucket women.

Boardman's work covers the lives of some of the most exemplary Nantucket women, whose spirit of independence, resourcefulness, and ambition, often in the face of their husbands’ long absences at sea, have made them much admired in American history. Astronomer Maria Mitchell said of her island sisters, “There is no town in New England where the whole body of women is so well-educated.”

A major feature of the exhibition is an accompanying book-length catalog, written by island historian and NHA Research Fellow Betsy Tyler. The catalog fills a major gap in Nantucket literature as an accessible, thoroughly-researched history of a broad range of outstanding island women, past and present.

Other features of the exhibition and related programming included a video production highlighting selected passages from the journals, logs, and letters of the women featured in the exhibition; a lecture by Betsy Tyler presenting the history of the women in the show (summer); and the Friends of the NHA lecture featuring Sena Jeter Naslund, author of Ahab’s Wife.

Susan Boardman's embroidered narratives can be viewed in exquisite detail on her website at

Summer/Autumn 2010

Nantucket Historical Association

Visions of Her: Portrait Photography by Nantucket Youth

Visions of Her: Portrait Photography by Nantucket Youth featured modern portraits of Nantucket women captured by teens from the Nantucket Boys & Girls Club and Nantucket High School. The photographs showcase the essence of women the young photographers admire, as well as the island itself. Bonus film interviews offer a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the creative spirit of the project.

Visit the digital exhibit.

The NHA offers this fresh, contemporary mix as part of its ”Year of the Nantucket Woman” offerings, which include the two seasonal exhibitions: A Passion for People: 40 Years of Nantucket Portrait Photography by Beverly Hall and “Sometimes think of me”: Notable Nantucket Women through the Centuries.

Spring 2010

Gift of the Whale: The Inupiat Bowhead Hunt, A Sacred Tradition

The Iñupiat Eskimos have lived and hunted in the Arctic region of Alaska for 5,000 years. Central to their lifestyle and survival is the bowhead whale, a primary source not only of food, building materials, and barter goods, but also of art, legends, and cultural identity. The Iñupiat communities continue to pursue the bowhead in their annual hunt. They conduct the whale hunt under the strict supervision of federal and state agencies, and may strike between 60–80 whales in their annual season. The International Whaling Commission has allotted the Iñupiat a block quota of 255 bowhead whales from 2008–2012. The average annual number of whales landed has been forty-one over the past ten years.

The exhibition features the photography of Bill Hess, who documented the bowhead hunt in his book Gift of the Whale: The Iñupiat Bowhead Hunt, A Sacred Tradition. With patience and openness, Hess earned the trust of the Iñupiat community, and was invited to document the hunt. His photographs share a startling and deeply moving portrait of a community fully engaged in the pursuit of the bowhead whale. The exhibition will provide visitors with a glimpse into a contemporary society that owes its survival to the hunting of whales, not unlike the island of Nantucket at the height of the Golden Age of whaling.

The exhibition will include: Photographs by Bill Hess; the documentary film The Eskimo and The Whale; an Eskimo kayak and Arctic carvings in ivory from the NHA collections; the building of a traditional Umiak by wooden boatbuilder Corey Freedman; Iñupiat music; speakers/presenters Bill Hess, Robert Hellman, Bill Tramposch, Ben Simons, and an Iñupiat whaling captain; possible video exchange with Barrow, Alaska and Nantucket school children.

Summer 2009
Harbor & Home: Furniture of Southeastern Massachusetts, 1710-1850
Organized by Winterthur Museum & Country Estate

In 2009, the Nantucket Historical Association will host its first major traveling exhibition, Harbor & Home: Furniture of Southeastern Massachusetts, 1710-1850, organized by Winterthur Museum & Country Estate. Harbor & Home will be a landmark in the institution’s history. The Winterthur exhibition focuses on a largely unstudied region of New England furniture—the area falling between Boston and Providence, which includes the unique seafaring communities of the Cape and Islands. Nantucket furniture, influenced by the restraint and elegant craftsmanship of the island’s Quaker community, is extremely rare, and has never been gathered together in one setting, nor studied with the scholarly intensity that Winterthur curator Brock Jobe and his colleagues have dedicated to produce the exhibition and the accompanying catalog. Remarkably, of the seventy-plus artifacts included in Winterthur’s exhibition, thirteen are from the collection of the Nantucket Historical Association—the greatest number of any institution after Winterthur. This prominence indicates the strength of the NHA collection, created in large part with the help of the Friends of the Nantucket Historical Association, our main collector’s group.

The NHA pieces featured in Harbor & Home will include the astronomical tall-case clock made by island genius Walter Folger Jr., recently voted one of the top 100 clocks in America; examples of the classic Nantucket Windsor chair; an outstanding inlaid candlestand by Heman Ellis; a cylinder-fall inlaid desk signed by Ellis; and a 4-slat ladderback Quaker Monthly Meeting side chair; to mention a few examples.

Harbor & Home: Furniture of Southeastern Massachusetts, 1710-1850
was organized by
Winterthur Museum & Country Estate

Major support for Harbor & Home provided by:
Americana Foundation
Chilton Foundation
Croll Foundation
Elizabeth B. McGraw Foundation
Wodecroft Foundation

Additional support is provided by Mr. and Mrs. James R. Alexander, Mr. and Mrs Max N. Berry, Mrs. Georgina M. Bissell, Mr. Paul T. Clark, DBS Northeast Auctions, James B. and Mary Lou Hawkes, The Hohmann Foundation, Mrs. Greta B. Layton, The Honorable and Mrs. Michael T. Paul, John and Margaret Ruttenberg, Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Ryder, Joseph E. and Norma G. Saul Foundation, Skinner Auctioneers & Appraisers, Gary R. Sullivan Antiques Inc., Mr. William W. Upton, Washington Decorative Arts Forum, Beth and Stanley Weiss, Mr. Kemble Widmer, Mr. and Mrs William F. Wiseman, and Anonymous.

The exhibition at the Nantucket Historical Association is made possible with support from Wilmington Trust FSB Massachusetts, Mr. and Mrs. Amos B. Hostetter Jr., Mr. & Mrs Hampton S. Lynch Jr., and Mr. and Mrs. Jay M. Wilson, and Anonymous.

Fall 2009
Camera's Coast: Historic Images of Ship & Shore in New England

This exhibition is a sampler of images from Historic New England's extensive collection of historic photographs documenting New England's rich maritime history, including Nantucket. The exhibition will be on display through November 8 and includes photographs of many traditional occupations -- from fishing, shipbuilding, and deep-water voyaging. Subjects depicted include square-riggers, coasting schooners, fishing vessels and fishing ports, small boats and large yachts, summer hotels and fishermen's shacks, fishermen, seaweed gatherers, and saltmarsh haymakers.

Curated by noted author and maritime historian William H. Bunting, The Camera's Coast illustrates life along the New England coast in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Pioneering photographers represented in the exhibition include Nathaniel L. Stebbins, Henry G. Peabody, Baldwin Coolidge, and Emma L. Coleman.

Historic New England (originally the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities) is the oldest, largest, and most comprehensive regional heritage organization in the nation; the organization shares the region's history through vast collections, publications, public programs, museum properties, archives, and family stories that document more than 400 years of life in New England.

Gay Head Light
Boston Wharf,
9 January 1909
White Island Light

Summer 2009
Landmarks of Nantucket!

What favorite Nantucket places would you miss if they suddenly vanished overnight?

We asked seventh-grade students at the Cyrus Peirce Middle School this question and worked with twenty-five of them after school this spring to record their own special places. Each student received a camera to capture images of Nantucket landmarks, worked with NHA and CPS staff, as well as professional-island photographers, and created a student-curated exhibition which will be on display at the Whaling Museum from May 3 to August 31.

Landmarks of Nantucket! is a collaboration involving the Nantucket Historical Association and the Nantucket Public Schools, specifically the Cyrus Peirce Middle School. Funding was provided by the Nantucket Golf Club Foundation.

Visit the Landmarks of Nantucket! 2009 digital exhibition.

Spring 2009

Keeping Time in Sag Harbor: Photographs by Stephen Longmire

In the 1840s, Nantucket and Sag Harbor vied for the honor of hosting New England’s second-largest whaling fleet — trailing New Bedford, a latecomer to the fishery. Sag Harbor sailors went to school aboard Nantucket whaleships soon after the American Revolution, learning the business of deep-sea whaling. This was only fair, since Nantucket had taken some lessons in shore whaling from Long Island Puritans a century earlier, in the late 1600s.

The ports share common histories, up to the present. Sag Harbor and Nantucket were boomtowns in the first half of the nineteenth century, pursuing a global trade in whale oil. Both island economies went belly up in the 1850s, once petroleum was discovered in Pennsylvania. Both turned to summer tourism, preserving the architectural record of their early affluence, despite devastating fires. Sag Harbor became a factory town; for a century, until 1981, it manufactured watchcases. During the nation’s recent housing boom, both resorts faced unprecedented development, stressing their landmark preservation laws. The business of economic speculation came home at last, and historic buildings were the chief commodity.

The photographs and texts in this exhibition are drawn from Stephen Longmire’s book Keeping Time in Sag Harbor, which marked the 300th anniversary of the New York port in 2007.

Winter 2008-2009

Nantucket Presidential Documents: From Washington to Roosevelt

American presidents have been concerned in the affairs of Nantucket island from the days of the foundation of the nation. The collections of the Nantucket Historical Association hold documents signed by nearly every president from Washington to Roosevelt. In honor of election year, the NHA will present an exhibition highlighting some of the more remarkable presidentially signed documents in the collection. Some of the documents of note include: appointment of Inspector of the Revenue for the Ports of Nantucket and Sherburne signed by George Washington and Thomas Jefferson; ships papers signed by James Madison, John Tyler, James Polk, James Buchanan, and others; Abraham Lincoln’s appointment of George Hussey Tracey as first lieutenant in the Fifteenth Infantry Regiment; a letter from Theodore Roosevelt to Dr. William Sturgis Bigelow; and a letter from Franklin Delano Roosevelt regarding the naming of a torpedo boat destroyer in honor of Nantucketer Reuben Chase. William III.

Summer 2008

'Sconset 02564: A Celebration of the Patchwork Village
May 23 – November 11, 2008

The exhibition features the history, architecture, personalities, and “character” of this unique village at the eastern end of Nantucket, often described as the most charming in America, following its evolution from a fishing village to a world-renowned summer resort.

Visit the digital exhibition

Spring 2008

Moby-Dick: Intaglio Prints by Janet Ball McGlinn

We are please to announce the opening of an exhibition of the Moby Dick Series of prints by Nantucket artist Janet (Ball) McGlinn (1915–1988). McGlinn was one of the most talented post-war artists working on Nantucket. She founded the Nantucket Printmakers with Schuyler Bradt in 1969 and taught printmaking, especially the technique of collograph, at the Artists Association of Nantucket when the workshop existed in the winter inside the blanketed lower gallery of the Kenneth Taylor Galleries. A  Philadelphia native, McGlinn attended the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and the Art Students League in New York City. McGlinn’s stunning print series vividly highlight key scenes and characters from Moby-Dick, including the famous whale jawbone bar at the Spouter Inn, Moby Dick himself, Queequeg, Ahab, a cutting-in scene, and a lovely image of Ishmael the sole survivor at the end of the epic tale.

Click here to see a digital version of this exhibition.

Spring 2008

In Search of Giant Squid!
A Traveling Exhibition of the Smithsonian Institution

In February 2008, the NHA will host its first traveling exhibition: In Search of Giant Squid. The giant squid, known as Architeuthis, is one of the ocean’s most elusive, mysterious, and mythologized creatures. It grew to fame as the sperm whale’s greatest rival―and its favorite meal. The NHA will present a Giant Squid Festival on Saturday March 8, 2008, featuring the world’s most renowned squid expert, Dr. Clyde Roper, as well as multiple family and children’s activities. The exhibition is supported, in part, by the Egan Maritime Foundation and Novation Media.

In Search of Giant Squid was developed by the National Museum of Natural History and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) in partnership with the Discovery Channel. This exhibition is made possible by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Summer 2007

Paintings of Rebecca Coffin

Elizabeth Rebecca Coffin (1850−1930) was born of Nantucket Quaker parentage in Brooklyn, New York. She studied at Vassar College, The Hague Academy of Fine Arts, the Art Students League in New York, and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, in addition to traveling extensively in Europe and California. She was a pupil of Thomas Eakins, whose striking portrait of the artist is on display here. Beginning in the 1880s, Coffin began to summer regularly on Nantucket, painting brilliant genre scenes and portraits that capture the quaint and fading way of life of post-whaling Nantucket. After moving to Nantucket permanently in 1900, her artistic output declined, and she began to devote her energies to reviving instruction in handicrafts at the Coffin School. An eighth-generation descendant of original Nantucket settlers Tristram and Dionis Coffin, the artist returned to the island of her ancestors, leaving a legacy of outstanding paintings and devoted public service.

Summer-Fall 2007

Landmarks of Nantucket!

Over thirty Nantucket sixth, seventh and eighth graders participated in the NHA’s first student-curated photographic exhibition. Landmarks of Nantucket! showcases what the students consider to be their cherished Nantucket landmarks. This collaborative exhibition was organized by the NHA, Nantucket Preservation Trust and Sustainable Nantucket.
Click here to visit the digital exhibition


Summer-Fall 2007

The Nantucket Art Colony, 1920 – 1945

Featured the work of the group of painters and teachers who came to Nantucket and formed the “paradise and dream come true” for artists that became the Nantucket Art Colony. They worked from artists’ studios and gallery spaces created from the relics of Nantucket’s long-vanished whaling past – the cluster of shacks, shanties, boathouses, and old buildings that lay soaking in the sea air along Nantucket’s waterfront.

Click here to see a digital version of this exhibition.


Spring 2007

Recent Acquisitions

A selection of new accessions donated to the NHA permanent collection, many of which were received during the 2006 season. Items range from an elegant mahogany tilt-top Nantucket candlestand attributed to Heman Ellis (1770-1816), to four large original watercolor whale murals painted by local artist C. Robert Perrin, to a surfboard from the island’s 1960s hippie era. 

The Friends of The Nantucket Historical Association, a nonprofit group of collectors founded in 1986 to help purchase and preserve Nantucket art, artifacts, and manuscripts, have also donated many remarkable items to the NHA collections over the past fifteen years.

Spring 2007

Nantucket Nightmares

Richard C. Maloney was a teacher who retired to Nantucket in 1970, and began creating a series of editorial cartoons that appeared in the Inquirer and Mirror under the signature “Atropos” (one of the three sister Fates in Greek mythology). His cartoons provided satirical social commentary on Nantucket’s burgeoning development issues, from housing, to automobiles, to new buildings, to tourism. Many of his cartoons still have a strong resonance today, with the island still facing the difficulties that were beginning to appear in the early 1970s. The collection of original Maloney drawings and clippings included in the exhibition was generously donated by the artist’s granddaughter Catherine Maloney.

See a digital version of this exhibition.


Autumn 2006

Andrea Doria: 50th Anniversary

Commemorating the collision of the Italian luxury liner and the Swedish ship Stockholm, due south of Nantucket, the exhibition included articles from the disaster scene, including a life vest and suitcase. Artifacts from the Gifford family, Nantucket residents who were traveling aboard the Andrea Doria when the collision occurred, were also displayed.


June-December 2006

Susan Boardman's Embroidered Narratives of Notable Nantucket Women

The Nantucket Historical Association has been proud to host two exhibitions of artwork by Susan Boardman. The first was on display June-October 2002, and the second was displayed June-December 2006, both in the Whitney Gallery of the NHA Research Library, 7 Fair Street.

Digital exhibitions based on these displays are available here.

Summer 2006

Signs of the Times: Nantucket Signs
McCausland Gallery in the Whaling Museum

An exhibition of nearly one hundred Nantucket business signs representing an encapsulated history of life on Nantucket, from the late nineteenth up to the late twentieth century, includes some of the most recognizable and fondly remembered establishments: The old Downyflake, the North Shore Restaurant, Andy's Diner, the Gordon Folger Hotel, Tavern on the Moors, Straight Wharf Theatre, Northeast Airlines, and numerous others. The collection was a gift from Mrs. Florence E. Clifford and her children-Debbi Deeley Culbertson, Dusty Deeley Ramos, and J. Drew Deeley.

"The nostalgia evoked by 125 years of signage, viewed together in one location, will certainly touch many who recall these great signs and the old businesses they represent," said Niles Parker, Interim Executive Director and Robyn and John Davis Curator. "We are very grateful to Mrs. Clifford and her family for this wonderful contribution to the preservation of Nantucket history."

See a digital version of this exhibition