Nantucket Historical Association
June 30, 2023

Nantucket Historical Association has been a caretaker of various properties and collections of historic interest and significance since its founding in 1894. The organization presently owns and maintains 18 properties comprising museums, galleries, and libraries that house collectibles, personal and institutional manuscripts, art, treasures, antiques, transcriptions, magazines, and books, among other items.

NHA is run by a sizeable team comprised of full-time and volunteer staff. A 27-member Board makes decisions of Trustees headed by Annabelle Fowlkes, the Board President, flanked by two Vice Presidents, Susan Blount, and Carla McDonald.

The NHA runs a donor program where History enthusiasts contribute to the organization’s operations. Donors interested in supporting the organization may do so by gifting collectibles of historical value to the island or donating to the organization’s trio of funds: the NHA Annual Fund, Summer Exhibition Fund, and Nantucket Lightship Basket Museum Fund.

In addition to the donor program, the organization generates revenue through ticket sales, membership subscriptions, and renting out its facilities to private functions.

Sites and Features

Facilities owned by the institution include the Hawden House, Old Mill, Oldest House, Greater Light, Old Jail, Fire Hose Cart House, Friends Meeting House, Tristram Coffin Homestead, Thomas Macy Warehouse, Eleanor Ham Pony Field, Folger-Franklin Memorial, 1800 House, Mill Hill, Research Library, and the Discovery Center. Many historical sites in the NHA portfolio were built as far back as the 17th and 18th centuries.

NHA’s signature property is the island-famous Whaling Museum in the Hadwen & Barney Oil and Candle factory along 13 Broad Street. The factory building was acquired by the institution in 1929 following the closure of the factory after the collapse of the Nantucket whaling industry. NHA revamped the structure in 2005 to preserve and add more space to the facility.

The Whaling Museum has a diverse exhibition featuring a 46-foot skeleton of a sperm whale, relics, artifacts, and pieces of art that span four centuries. Sea-related items are especially prominent in the museum. Thus, if you’re a marine and maritime lover, you’ll enjoy the assortment of ship and whale figurines, navigation equipment, maps, weapons, whale oil, and well-preserved skeletons displayed at the museum.

In the two-story Oil and Candle factory building, you’ll also find a digital illustration of typical operations at the facility during the factory’s hay days. A Museum Shop with marine, maritime and locomotive figurines, historical books, art, photos, maps, gifts, home goods, Nantucket Lightship Basket merchandise, and NHA branded merchandise is also open to customers. Alternatively, customers can access and purchase the goods online by visiting the NHA’s website.

NHA rents the Whaling Museum main hall for private functions such as wedding receptions, cocktail parties, and town hall meetings. Customers can get detailed information about the rental service and book the space by contacting the NHA Events Rental Manager.

The upper floor of the factory building features a rentable Tucker’s Roofwalk, an open space with captivating views of the Nantucket Harbor.

Customers desiring to host their events in a garden can rent the Hawden House, a property with a picturesque 900ft garden with seating and standing capacities of 60 and 130, respectively.

Programs, Bookings & Memberships

The museums and NHA Museum Shop are open daily between 10 am and 5 pm. Other facilities are open daily from 11 am to 4 pm. Schedules may vary depending on season, weather, or private function bookings. To get up-to-speed with the schedules and plan your visit accordingly, NHA advises visiting its web and social platforms and subscribing to its mailing list.

Tours offered by NHA aren’t limited to sites owned by the institution. Rather, people interested in learning about Nantucket’s past and present can attend NHA’s in-person tours or watch the institution’s Virtual Walking Tours on the NHA website and YouTube Channel.

The NHA offers tickets for purchase on its website along with issuance rules. Island residents under 6 get tickets to the Whaling Museum at no cost, while tickets for children between 6 and 17 years cost $5 per child. Tickets for students and senior citizens go for $20 each, and individual adult tickets are priced at $25.

Nantucket Historical Association also offers a comprehensive Research program at its Research Library that is open on weekdays between 10 am and 4 pm. The Research Library is only accessible to readers that have scheduled appointments via email prior to their visit. Research tools include genealogical records, the Nantucket cemeteries database, Maps, books, and more. The institution provides research assistance at the library.

NHA conducts multiple community and family programs, including decorative arts, lectures, and symposiums as part of its educational program. The programs entail stories, discussions, and transcriptions. Many of these are accessible to general audiences, but some are a preserve of NHA Membership subscribers.

In addition to invitations to Member-only events, the NHA Membership program features other benefits, including unlimited admissions, free walking tours, a subscription to NHA’s Historic Nantucket magazine, and discounts on NHA’s products and services. Membership rates are $55 for individuals, $85 for Nantucket families, and $125 for visiting families. Donor membership rates range between $250 for Supporters and $10,000 for 1894 Founders Society Ambassadors. All subscriptions are tax-deductible. NHA provides detailed pricing along with a seamless subscription interface on its website.

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