School Programs

The Nantucket Historical Association’s Education Department provides young visitors with meaningful educational experiences that are both fun and developmentally appropriate. History is a collection of stories and experiences that the NHA uses to engage its audiences, young and old. The Education staff utilizes the numerous NHA properties and artifacts to bring history alive through traditional museum and historic site tours, classroom visits, arts & crafts activities, and innovative programming around the island.

Annually, the NHA welcomes schools from across the nation (and down the road) to experience firsthand the Whaling Museum and other historic sites. Initiatives such as Museum in My School, which brings artifacts into the Nantucket Elementary School for display as well as provides direct student interaction, in order to introduce island children to their rich history without leaving the classroom.  Year-round informal learning takes place in the Whaling Museum Discovery Center, where crafting, games, and directed play all lead to extraordinary learning experiences.

NHA Education provides specially tailored programs that fit the needs of educators and youth group leaders. School programs and tours are interactive, experiential, and hands-on. They are also developed in connection with Massachusetts and national curriculum standards.


The NHA strives to provide dynamic, experiential, and standards-based educational programming on a year-round basis.

Reservations are required for school and youth programs and are booked on a first-come, first-served basis. To book a school or youth program or tour, contact our Education Department at (508) 228-1894, ext. 123 or via email at

The NHA is always working to improve their educational offerings. In addition to actively creating and implementing new programs, the NHA occasionally offers unique programs tailored to specific groups. This is a sampling of the programs that we have offered in the past.

Custom Programs

There and Back: A Nantucket Whaling Voyage

A collaborative partnership with the Nantucket Elementary School (NES) invites every NES third grader to sign onto a whale ship and sail away to exotic places for one night every fall. This transformative experience provides the opportunity to learn through stories and hands-on activities just what it meant to be a whaler in old Nantucket. Students are assigned to one of three whaleship crews, and with the aid of their Captain (a skilled and engaging NHA Interpreter) they learn what propelled Nantucketers to sea. Along the way, they meet historic characters, explore the different cultures that Nantucketers encountered on their voyages, and even spot some whales! Before falling asleep under the belly of the whale skeleton, they return to the home port, determine how much money they made, and take a photo with their crew to preserve the memory.

Museum in My School

In 2012, the NHA began an ongoing collaboration with the Nantucket Elementary School to bring artifacts and stories into the classrooms. Each month of the school year, education staff visits one grade at the school. NHA staff visits each classroom twice, bringing along artifacts and images, and students create their own artifact-based art or writing project. These projects, along with the NHA’s own artifacts and images, are then placed on display in the school’s showcase, creating a museum in the school. Students learn about specific topics in Nantucket history as well as the role of museums and the proper care of historical artifacts, all within a Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks-based model.

A Walk Through TimeA Walk through Time

In 2014, the NHA developed a new overnight experience for the Nantucket New School. Fourth grade students travel back in time and tour downtown Nantucket, meeting historic figures along the way, before returning to the Whaling Museum to learn about the whaling industry, the Hadwen & Barney Oil & Candle Factory, and the many exotic locations to which whalers traveled. The night culminates in a Nantucket history trivia competition and falling asleep underneath the 46-foot whale skeleton.

To inquire about the opportunity to schedule a unique school or youth program, contact the Education Department at (508) 228-1894, ext. 123 or via email at via email at Unique educational opportunities are subject to availability. Prices vary based on program, resources, and rental fees.

The Nantucket Historical Association preserves and interprets the history of Nantucket through its programs, collections, and properties, in order to promote the island’s significance and foster an appreciation of it among all audiences.

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