Summer on Nantucket: A History of the Island Resort

Containing more than 200 artifacts from the NHA collection, this exhibition tells the story of Nantucket as a summer destination, from the opening of the first tourist hotels in the 1840s to the multi-billion-dollar real-estate, construction, and rental economy of today.

The exhibit begins with “Impressions of Summer,” a feast of paintings, trade signs, souvenirs, and other items capturing the flavor of Nantucket in high season. “The Resort Economy” traces the island’s transition from a whaling port to a vacation spot. “Must See, Must Do” explores beach and water recreation, entertainment and dining, and changing tourist activities across more than a century. “Where to Stay?” demonstrates how summer-home options have changed as more of the island has been developed. “Who’s Here?” features new acquisitions from the NHA’s costume and textile collections showing island summer fashions.

“It’s Not All Roses” recognizes the hard work seasonal employees and year-round residents put into making summer happen for everyone and explores some of the downsides to the island’s popularity and success: crowding, traffic, housing insecurity, and economic inequality. The exhibit concludes with “Winter,” a look at the continuation of island life after the crowds depart.

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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