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Whaling Museum, Nantucket

#1 of 64 in Things to do in Nantucket
Specialty Museum · Museum
Home to a large number of artifacts, tools, and displays, Whaling Museum documents the history of the industry in the region. Though controversial and outlawed today, the practice of whaling played a crucial role in the economic and human development of New England. Examine the instruments used by whalers to find, hunt, and process whales; the press for extracting whale oil is the only example of its kind remaining in its original place of use. Be sure to examine the whaling-related artwork throughout the facility. You'll find that the giant sperm whale skeleton suspended from the ceiling provides an impressive centerpiece for the museum. If you have time, try climbing up to the observation deck for a view over the Nantucket harbor. Make Whaling Museum a centerpiece of your Nantucket vacation itinerary, and find what else is worth visiting using our Nantucket travel route planner.
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Whaling Museum reviews

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1,620 reviews
  • Nice mix of exhibits, live storytelling and movies. The view from the roof gives a nice glance at the town. The wooden press to make the whale oil candles, was, to me the most impressive thing at...  more »
  • Great and educational. Made you realize how tough these men had to be to do this job. Exhibits were sensational. Well worth while - don’t miss it. The gift shop is also quite nice.  more »
  • I am a huge nerd for maritime history and may or may not have wanted to go to Nantucket just to see the historical whaling stuff there. I just knew this museum had to be my first stop. I was kind of afraid that it wouldn’t live up to my expectations after making the long journey out to the island, but I definitely wasn’t disappointed on my visit at all! Admission may seem a little steep at 20 dollars, but with that ticket you get access to other historical sites around town. Even without that, though, I feel like it was 20 dollars well spent. The museum workers were very knowledgeable and the interactive presentations were super cool! At a minimum, you MUST listen in on “the hunt”. It’s not actually a requirement, of course, but it is too interesting and cool to pass up. The museum also has a huge collection of skrimshaw pieces, which are basically carved whale teeth/bone. I could’ve spent hours just looking at the intricate detail in each piece. Also, the rooftop view is to die for. You can stand up on the roof for as long as you want watching ferries pull into and out of the harbor, or lean on the railing and pretend like you’re a whaler’s wife watching for your husband’s ship to return. Anyway, this is hands down the coolest place on the island! Definitely check it out!
  • Small but very informative. They had a great collection of old and antiquated fishing items that were native to Nantucket and the whaling industry here. They also had a full 16-foot skeleton of a sperm whale on display that hangs from the ceiling. The admission is a little steep at $20/adult but overall a really nice museum.

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