Whaling Museum

Today's Whaling Museum Schedule

Whaling Museum Closed
January 1–February 5, 2020

Whaling Museum Open
February 6–March 31, 2020
Thursday-Sunday, 10:00am–4:00pm


All of the Whaling Museum’s exhibits are accessible by wheelchair, and all public floors of the Museum can be reached by elevator. The public elevator is equipped with Braille signage and gives auditory signals.

Service animals are welcome to visit the Museum. We follow the Federal government’s guidelines on service animals. The NHA welcomes dogs that are individually trained to perform a task or work for a person with a disability, but please leave pets at home.


Non-motorized wheelchairs are available for visitors to use at no cost, on a first-come, first-served basis. You can request them at the Ticketing Desk in the main lobby.


Assistive Listening devices are available for lectures, films and presentations in Gosnell Hall and films in the Candle Factory theater. Please see the front desk or an Interpreter for a device.


Wheelchair accessible restrooms are available on the first floor in the Timeline hallway. Additional public restrooms are available at the entrance to the Discovery Center.

About the Whaling Museum

The Whaling Museum is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. Featuring permanent and rotating exhibitions in 9 premium galleries, with over a thousand works of art, artifacts and treasures on display, it tells the Island’s fascinating stories over 4 centuries.  The museum is home to a 46-foot sperm whale skeleton, a massive Fresnel lens, a restored 1847 candle factory and a relaxing, fully-accessible rooftop deck offers stunning views of Nantucket harbor.

Be sure to plan ample time to explore the history-rich galleries; enjoy daily programs, spotlight tours, and films exclusively created for the NHA; dive into featured exhibitions; play in the Discovery Center, and enjoy the unparalleled views of Nantucket Harbor from Tucker’s Roofwalk.

And doAmerican Alliance of Museumsn’t forget to visit the Museum Shop in the Hadwen & Barney Oil and Candle Factory, where you will find a carefully selected mixture of merchandise relating to Nantucket’s present and past.

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. The museum was reaccredited in 2017.

Learn more about the history of the Whaling Museum

What You Will Experience

Explore Gosnell Hall and envision what it was like to be part of the demanding and dangerous trade of 18th century whaling. Learn more.

Tour the Hadwen & Barney Oil and Candle Factory. Learn about the lucrative trade of oil and candle production in the 19th century and about the growth of Nantucket industries needed to support that production. Learn more.

Painting "Back of Nichols’ Barn, ’Sconset” by George Inness

Opening in the new Williams Forsyth gallery, this exhibit features paintings from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries from the NHA and private collections on island.  Some of these paintings have not been seen by the public in decades. Learn More

A traveling exhibition from the Smithsonian American Art Museum.  View paintings and sculptures from the 1910s to 1980s by Will Barnet, Isabel Bishop, and Edward Hopper, among others. Learn More

Whaling Museum Scrimshaw Gallery

The scrimshaw collection is a result of over a century and a half of passionate collecting. Highlights of the collection include some of the earliest and rarest sperm whale teeth, engraved by the most famous of all scrimshaw artists. Learn More

In partnership with the Artists Association of Nantucket, The Art of Seward Johnson is an outdoor sculpture exhibit that highlights the artwork of Johnson, whose lifelike bronze sculptures have been exhibited internationally for decades. Learn More

Marvel at the unusual artifacts collected from around the world over four centuries by men and women of Nantucket through whaling and commerce. Learn More

Neptune’s Grotto is full of mysteries!  A tusked walrus skull from the frozen North resembles a fossil of the legendary cyclops.  A massive whale’s jaw, impossibly contorted, proves its owner’s ability to survive and feed. Learn More

Whale Hunt Presentation

Using historic images, film footage, and artifacts in the museum, NHA guides tell the story of Nantucket’s rise and fall as the whaling capital of the world and bring to life the toil and danger faced by men in pursuit of whales. Daily in the Gosnell Hall Whale Hunt Gallery.

Essex Gam

The Essex Gam tells the tale of the ill-fated whaleship Essex which was sunk in 1820 in the Pacific Ocean and inspired Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick. Offfered  daily in the Candle Factory. 

Nantucket, a film by documentary filmmaker Ric Burns, captures the unparalleled beauty of the island and explores Nantucket’s global significance in this remarkable gateway film. Created exclusively for the NHA, watch the film daily in the Candle Factory Theater. Click on the image to view the trailer.

The Bones of History, a film by John Stanton

Bones of History, created exclusively for the NHA by filmmaker John Stanton, documents the events surrounding the sperm whale that washed up on the eastern end of Nantucket in 1998 and now hangs as the centerpiece of Gosnell Hall. Shown daily in the Candle Factory Theater.

Discovery Room at the Whaling Museum

The NEW Discovery Center is now located in the former Museum Shop and the outdoor pocket park behind the store.  The space includes the 25-foot long and masterfully detailed Nantucket Railroad model.  Families and children of all ages are invited to explore Nantucket history through activities and crafts programs in this dedicated indoor and outdoor space.


Whaling Museum Roofwalk, photograph by Zofia & Co.

Be sure to climb the circular staircase, or take the wheelchair-accessible elevator, to Tucker’s Roofwalk, perched atop the Whaling Museum, where the panorama of the harbor pres­ents a changing scene governed by the season and the weather and by the layers of history that make Nantucket such a storied island.

Upcoming Programs

Winter Discovery Days

The Flower Power Party

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