NHA announces steps to reopen and new summer initiatives

NANTUCKET, MA – The Nantucket Historical Association (NHA) is ready to “lower its whaleboats and get underway” at the Whaling Museum and welcome the public back once permission is granted. Staff is implementing robust sanitizing measures to safeguard the public and make the indoor experience both exceptional and safe for young and old alike. Management enthusiastically extended the wintertime policy of free admission for the island community.

“The NHA is the steward of important Nantucket collections, many of which were donated over its 126-year history by members of the community, and we are committed to providing access as soon as we are permitted to safely do so,” states Kelly Williams, NHA President.

New physical enhancements make a touch-free experience while visiting, including scheduled and timed visits that can be booked online; extended museum hours at the beginning and end of the day; an 8am–9am reserved time for seniors; and a self-guided audio tour available using personal devices.

Importantly the NHA has contracting with a Boston-based firm that specializes in the field of pathogen remediation. Their team of experts will conduct a frequent sanitizing regimen throughout the complex that is tailored to the needs of the museum and informed by similar work in Boston-area schools, hotels, and hospitals. Other safety upgrades include sanitation stations throughout the museum; HVAC system MERV13 filters; and increases in the flow of fresh air into the building.

As a visual guide, a Yellow “Cobblestone” Road, à la The Wizard of Oz, is installed for the visitor to walk through the entire museum, including the roof deck, in a safe and unencumbered path. New exhibitions abound, and a brand new Discovery Center designed for kids will definitely make you want to tap your heels three times and say “there is no place like the NHA.”

“Underscoring all the above is the firm belief that cultural institutions like the NHA can be places of healing during a time of crisis,” states James Russell, Gosnell Executive Director. “We are fortunate to have large open indoor spaces, and the concept of “seeing-not-touching” is widely understood when visiting a museum. Providing a sanctuary is important this year, particularly as other indoor entertainment options are limited. We choose the Yellow Brick Road metaphor for a reason—this year we want to do our part to strengthen the heart, mind, and spirit of the community. The raison d’etre for the NHA is that it is an ever-evolving synthesis of Nantucket-over-time, through its collections and historic properties. As this crisis tests our very being, we can look to how the island’s forebears stood up to similar economic and health challenges.”

Nantucket by Design, the association’s premiere summer fundraiser, celebrates the island’s unique influence on American Design, and by virtue of going virtual, is now accessible by a global audience. This year’s phenomenon brings together the world’s top talent in interior design, with presentations and tours. Participants will enjoy virtual private dinners, a Night at the Museum virtual dance party, and The Nantucket Summer Antiques Show all through live-streaming platforms.

The Research Library continues to provide remote research services, and when allowed, will offer again both in-person service to researchers and intimate member mornings that prove to be so popular.

The NHA’s 1800 House educational programs focus on reviving Nantucket’s rich tradition of early American decorative arts. These classes are moving online with live instructors, followed by in-person small-group workshops when circumstances allow.

The Museum Shop will operate as an online store and curbside pickup is available.

New member benefits are designed to provide a safe experience while visiting the Whaling Museum. These include member-only hours, reserved entry times, weekly member mornings for small groups, NHA guest speakers for your own Zoom cocktail party, discounted rates for renting the Whaling Museum roof deck for small group dinners, and more.

Throughout this crisis, we remind visitors that they are encouraged to enjoy the peace and tranquility found at many of the historic properties, such as the beautiful gardens of Hadwen House and Greater Light, or the open spaces by the Old Mill and Oldest House. Public outdoor programs, many at the historic sites, will ramp up once permitting allows. These will include creative uses of the normally fallow grounds, with performances and presentations.


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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