NANTUCKET, MA –Over the past five months, the Nantucket Historical Association (NHA) has been in discussion with the Nantucket Lightship Basket Museum (NLBM) regarding a Affiliation Agreement that will join the two entities. On March 29, at a special meeting of the NLBM Membership, that body voted overwhelmingly to proceed with the affiliation.
The Boards are excited that joining forces will provide a larger platform to promote the story of Nantucket lightship baskets. In a joint statement from Daryl Westbrook, NLBM President, and Calvin “Chip” Carver, President NHA: “The NLBM history, tradition and craft will be preserved in a new home at the NHA. We are excited by the possibilities presented by this affiliation and will be guided by how it can best benefit the community. The lightship basket craft is unique to this Island. The craft is very much alive and must be honored, nurtured and treasured.” Further to this, Carver notes: “We are humbled by the trust that the NLBM has placed in us to carry forward their mission of preserving Nantucket’s rich history of basket making. Significantly, the NHA family welcomes the NLBM founding-members, members, docents and demonstrators as together we weave a new chapter on the Nantucket lightship basket story.”
A key part of the affiliation will be the establishment of a new gallery dedicated to Nantucket crafts, named the Nantucket Lightship Basket Museum Gallery, located at the NHA’s Broad Street campus. Once the existing location of the NLBM at 49 Union is vacated and sold, the proceeds will be directed in large part to the creation of this new gallery. This will place the lightship basket story in the heart of NHA’s primary facility. Until this gallery is built, impressive displays will be exhibited at Hadwen House and at the Whaling Museum.
One of the reasons that the affiliation with the NHA is so attractive is that education and scholarship are key tenets of both institutions. As a result of this affiliation, basket making will be integrated into the NHA’s year-round offerings of craft classes for children, youth and adults; and it will be manifested in its scholarship, publications, oral histories and in-person and virtual programming. It is anticipated that the combined lightship basket collection will grow in time, with the clear goal of building comprehensive and world-class holdings. This year’s exhibit at Hadwen House is curated by basket weaver Kathleen Myers and will showcase 100 baskets from the NLBM. The José Reyes Workshop display will be rehoused in the Decorative Arts Gallery at the Whaling Museum.
The NLBM’s mission is to promote the awareness and appreciation of lightship baskets and their makers, by educating and engaging the public about the complexity of this art form unique to Nantucket, and placing it within a broader context of related crafts.