NHA News - Recent Press Releases

June 30, 2011

Nantucket Historical Association Debuts New Film by Ric Burns to Enhance Island Experience Designed to Introduce Nantucket History to Visitors

NANTUCKET: Throughout the summer months more than 50,000 people of all ages will board the ferry to Nantucket, eager to set off on exciting adventures and create new vacation memories with family and friends. Also new this summer, The Nantucket Historical Association (NHA) will premiere an original short film to showcase the island’s natural beauty and unique history. Written and produced by Emmy award-winning documentary filmmaker Ric Burns, “Nantucket” will premiere on July 1st, 2011 with a day of public celebration and a free community screening open to all.

Today well-known as a summertime vacation destination, Nantucket, just 30 miles from the mainland, has a rich and fascinating history. Illustrating Nantucket’s original Wampanoag Native American population and early Quaker culture to its historical significance as the whaling capital of the world and eventual rebirth as an art and resort colony, the film will educate viewers about the island’s past and serve as a gateway experience for the present-day Nantucket visitor.

“Nantucket will soon have an experience that captures, in a transformative way, its historic essence,” said William Tramposch, Executive Director of the Nantucket Historical Association. “Ric Burns will weave the story of this ‘elbow of sand’ so those legions who will see it at the Whaling Museum will know that this is not just another sandbar in the sea, that this place has international historic ramifications. The film will catapult viewers into our town armed with a greater sense of why this entire island is now a National Historic Landmark.”

Burns and his company, Steeplechase Films, first approached the NHA in 2007 to express interest in filming a documentary on the history of the American whaling industry titled “Into the Deep” which premiered nationally on PBS’ American Experience series last year. While in the planning phase of that film, the NHA began discussions with Burns about producing a shorter film for the association, in order to highlight the island’s unique history and beauty, which morphed into this summer’s release, “Nantucket.” To compile the film about the island, the acclaimed director accessed the extensive NHA archives and collections. Much of the full-length documentary’s establishing shots were filmed on the ground, in the air and on the sea, which Burns characterized as being inhabited by the “fourth-dimension” of history.

“The story of Nantucket resonates far and wide,” said Ric Burns, Steeplechase Films. “It is so much more than a summer playground, and my goal with this film is to offer every island visitor an opportunity to truly understand the global role that the island has played throughout history.”

The film includes commentary by historians, islanders, and writers including New York Times best-selling author Nathaniel Philbrick, all of whom, share personal stories and unique island insight.

The film will be narrated by actor Robert Sean Leonard who is most recently known for his role on FOX’s hit series “House” and has appeared in classic films including “Dead Poets Society”, “Much Ado About Nothing” and “Mr. and Mrs. Bridge” with Paul Newman. He has lent his soothing voice to other films, including Burns’ “Into the Deep”.

On the evening of Friday July 1, to celebrate the official premiere of the film, the NHA will host a magical once-in-a-lifetime community event at Nantucket’s Children’s Beach. All are invited to a free afternoon of family activities, crafts, games, community art projects, trivia, photo booths, live music, face-painting and more. As the sun goes down, the crowd will be a part of Nantucket history as they enjoy the first public screening of this film on a large outdoor screen under the stars, all for free.

After the July 1 premiere, the 51-minute film will be shown twice daily at the Whaling Museum, 13 Broad Street, throughout the summer and beyond.

About the Nantucket Historical Association

The Nantucket Historical Association (NHA) preserves and interprets the history of Nantucket Island and fosters appreciation of its historic significance. Founded in 1894, the NHA cares for twenty-two historic buildings and sites across Nantucket. Through its year-round efforts, the NHA preserves and interprets these exceptional locations to make them accessible to island residents and visitors alike. Properties include the flagship Whaling Museum, featuring a forty-six-foot sperm whale skeleton; the 1686 Jethro Coffin “Oldest House” and Garden; the Old Mill; Greater Light; the Quaker Meeting House, the Hadwen House and the Fire Hose-Cart House. In 2008, renowned travel writer Andrew Harper included the NHA’s Whaling Museum on his list of one of “10 U.S. Places to See Before You Die.” The NHA is fully accredited by the American Association of Museums and was recognized by The Non Profit Times as one of the “50 Best Non Profits to Work For 2011.”