Nantucket Lightship Baskets

There are four distinctive elements that define a Nantucket lightship basket. The basket is woven on a mold; the staves are made of rattan; the weavers are of cane; and the basket has a solid wood base. Baskets with these characteristics developed on Nantucket during the course of the nineteenth century. When well made, they were robust and practical as storage and carrying baskets and were in wide use in the island’s stores, workshops, and homes. As the island transitioned from a whaling economy to a tourist economy in the 1860s and after, the island’s work baskets became popular keepsakes of an island visit.   Learn More

Nantucket Lightship Basket Museum

The Nantucket Lightship Basket Museum (NLBM) was founded in 1997 with the purpose of preserving Nantucket’s rich history of lightship-basket making through public education and creating a permanent home for the display of lightship baskets, both historic and contemporary. In 2021, the Nantucket Lightship Basket Museum affiliated with the Nantucket Historical Association, acknowledging that education and scholarship are key tenets of both institutions. As a result of this affiliation, basket making has been integrated into the NHA’s year-round offerings of craft classes for children, youth and adults; and it has been manifested in NHA’s scholarship, publications, oral histories and in-person and virtual programming.   Learn More

Round woven basket with handle

The Collection

Search the NHA collection for its extensive holdings of historic and contemporary Nantucket lightship baskets and basket-related artifacts, including the recently-incorporated collection of the Nantucket Lightship Basket Museum. More Read more from The Collection

Jose Reyes weaving a basket in his workshop


Explore historic biographies and learn more about the individuals who raised this craft to an art form unique to Nantucket Island.More Read more from Biographies


Learn more about the history and complexity of Nantucket lightship basket making.More Read more from Articles


Check in on the latest exhibitions and displays of Nantucket lightship baskets at the Whaling Museum and Hadwen House.More Read more from Exhibitions

Cover of the Historic Nantucket Basket Issue

Historic Nantucket

Follow the NHA's Historic Nantucket publication featuring articles on Nantucket lightship baskets and the Nantucket Lightship Basket Museum.More Read more from Historic Nantucket

Hands weaving a basket over a mold


View recordings featuring contemporary basket makers, craftspeople, and aficionados on Nantucket lightship basket making and its history.More Read more from Videos


Join a NHA Decorative Arts workshop and learn the art of weaving Nantucket lightship baskets or hone your weaving skills. New classes are added regularly so check back often!More Read more from Workshops


Explore the NHA Museum Shop for lightship basket-inspired products.More Read more from Shop

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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