Restored in 2005, the Nantucket Whaling Museum features an expanded top-quality exhibition space, a fully accessible rooftop observation deck overlooking Nantucket harbor, a 46-foot sperm whale skeleton, and a restored 1847 candle factory.
The candle factory was built by the Mitchell family immediately following Nantucket's Great Fire in 1846 and close to the end of the island's whaling era. Less than two years later, island businessmen William Hadwen and Nathaniel Barney purchased the manufactory and continued to operate it as a candleworks until the end of whaling in the 1860s. The structure served as a warehouse until its conversion into the offices of the New England Steamship Company in the 1870s. In 1919, the candleworks was outfitted to use as storage and housed an antiques shop. In 1929, the building was purchased and converted into the NHA's Whaling Museum, and remained as such for more than seventy years.
In 2008, the Whaling Museum received accreditation from the American Association of Museums, an honor bestowed upon fewer than one of every twenty-two museums in the country.
Visit Us and You Will See...
The signatureNantucket film by Emmy award-winning filmmaker
Documentary filmmaker Ric Burns captures the unparalleled beauty of the island and explores Nantucket’s historical significance in this gateway film. Shown twice daily in the Whaling Museum’s main hall.
Whale Hunt Multimedia Show
Using historic images, film footage, and objects in the museum, our presenters tell the story of Nantucketís rise and fall as the whaling capital of the world.
Our storytellers present the tale of the ill-fated Nantucket whaleship Essex, which was sunk in 1820 in the Pacific Ocean and inspired Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick.
Join us daily for a guided tour of the museum and its highlighted collections.
Families and children of all ages are invited to explore Nantucket history through activities and crafts programs in our dedicated family space.