Whaling Museum

Today's Whaling Museum Schedule

Whaling Museum open
February 7-March 31, 2019
Thursday-Sunday 10am-4pm


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. Please see the front desk or an Interpreter for a device.


Wheelchair accessible restrooms are available on the first floor in the Timeline hallway and in the Discovery Room.

About the Whaling Museum

“One of the ten places to see in America before you die.” Andrew Harper

Restored in 2005, the Nantucket Whaling Museum incorporates a new, expanded exhibit and program space that connects the 1847 Hadwen & Barney Oil and Candle Factory and the 1971 Peter Foulger Museum. The new structure includes the soaring Gosnell Hall Whale Hunt Gallery, where a forty-six-foot-long sperm whale skeleton is suspended from the ceiling. The Hadwen & Barney Oil and Candle Factory, featuring the massive lever press, is in­terpreted as an industrial site where the compli­cated process of refining oil and making sperma­ceti candles is explained along with the other Nantucket industries that arose from the whaling era. Explore eleven unique galleries and exhibit spaces featuring thousands of artifacts and art pertaining to Nantucket life, art, and ideas and Nantucket’s unique place in the world.

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

And doAmerican Alliance of Museumsn’t forget to visit the Museum Shop adjacent to 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

Whaling Museum Whale Hunt Gallery with view of sperm whale and whaleboat.

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

Whaling Museum Candle Factory with view of lever press

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.

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.

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.

Whaling Museum Scrimshaw Gallery

Offered daily, Spotlight Tours cover a variety of subjects such as Scrimshaw, Wampanoag History, How the Candle Factory Worked, and The Great Fire of 1846.

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.


Upcoming Programs at the Whaling Museum

Winter Discovery Days

See all programs

Private Events at the Whaling Museum

We ask all of our visitors to conduct themselves in a respectful way at all NHA properties in accordance with the Code of Conduct and all laws and local ordinances.

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 among all audiences.

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