- Location: 29 York St, Nantucket, MA 02554, US
- Contact: 508-228-9833
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- Website: maah.org/nantucket-location
Many people associate Nantucket with a warm climate, stunning beaches, and fantastic food, which make it a perfect tourist destination, especially in summer. However, these are a mere handful of the niceties Nantucket has in store for you, particularly if you are into history.
Nantucket has a rich history that is easy to overlook. The good news is that its story is intact, courtesy of several museums and establishments, such as the Museum of African American History. As a history buff, you should visit this museum to discover a relatively unknown part of Nantucket’s timeline.
Let us give you a spoiler of the Museum of African American History and what to expect on your fact-finding escapades.
Introduction to the Museum of African American History
As its name hints, the Museum of African American History seeks to preserve the stories of African Americans who inhabited Nantucket since the 18th century. The museum has two campuses, the other being in Boston.
The story of this historically significant establishment dates back to 1774, when Seneca Boston, a formerly enslaved person, and his Native American wife bought a parcel of land in Nantucket. The couple contributed significantly to the foundation of the free Black community that was settling on the island.
Boston’s house remained in the family until Florence Higginbotham bought it in 1920. African American families occupied the house’s rooms, for more than two centuries, until its acquisition by the museum in 2001.
The museum is easily accessible, less than a mile from the town center via Orange Street. The building has a signature aged look, with a similar color scheme as many Nantucket houses.
This non-profit historical attraction has been operational since 1963 and comprises four African American buildings established when the nation was young. Its vision is to preserve early African American history and culture in New England.
The Museum’s Attractions
The Museum of African American History has numerous attractions that will quench your curiosity. Below are some things you should not miss when touring this Nantucket Relic.
The Seneca Boston/Florence Higginbotham House
As discussed above, this significant structure is part of the museum. You should tour this elegant house to appreciate its fascinating backstory.
The African Meeting House
The African Meeting House is a sizeable post and beam building that takes credit for being the only public building in Nantucket, built and occupied by African Americans in the 19th century.
This structure, built in the early 1800s by the African Baptist Society, was a pillar of Nantucket’s Black community. It served as a place of worship, school, and meeting point for various vital figures. The African Meeting House retains roughly three-quarters of its original form and has withstood the test of time. The structure occasionally holds special events and ceremonies.
The Black Heritage Trail
It is a self-guided trail that provides info on several sites around their museum and their relevance to African American roots.
Events and Exhibitions
The museum holds numerous events and exhibitions, mainly focusing on African American history and affairs. You should check the museum’s website to confirm oncoming events. You may also book the venue for your special occasion.
The Museum of African American History is among the many historical sites in Nantucket that give you a glimpse of the island’s early days. As a history buff, you will have the time of your life visiting this establishment.
This summer, the museum will be open from 12 pm to 4 pm on Wednesdays and Thursdays and between 10 am and 4 pm from Friday to Sunday. You should book an appointment if visiting outside the specified windows. Additionally, you can donate to the museum’s cause to appreciate its role in historic preservation.