Next to the scrimshaw gallery is a display of the some of the finest objects in the NHA’s decorative-arts collection. Presented in an airy open space, visitors hardly notice that this is one of the highest quality climate-controlled spaces in the museum. Instead, they enjoy the wonders of the NHA’s lightship basket collection, framed needlework pieces, furniture, and whimsical whirligigs in a room with a meticulously hand-painted floor by island artisan Christina Wiggins.
The Decorative Arts Gallery is also a perfect place to stop and view the wonders of the architectural design of the museum. From one corner in the gallery, visitors can look through three windows and catch three unique views encompassing a great expanse of Nantucket history. First, through the fanlight, people can peer out onto South Water Street and contemplate the lively hustle and bustle of our island community. Next they can peek through a round window, reminiscent of a ship’s porthole. Through this small pane of glass they can see the Fresnel lens, which once operated on whale oil, and beyond it, the Candle Factory. A larger rectangular window, holding the basket collection, invites viewers to take another look at the Town Clock and past the central stairway to Gosnell Hall and the spine of the sperm-whale skeleton.
Banner and page photography by Peter Vanderwarker