In the late 18th century and early 19th century Nantucket was the whaling capital of the world. Successful ship’s Captains built grand houses on Main Street and First Mates built smaller houses on India and Fair Streets. Today’s Nantucket reflects this heritage, and a great many of those early residences still exist.
The Nantucket Historical Association with its Whaling Museum, historical properties, and guided walking tours through the historic district is a must see for any visitor who wants to understand the history of the Island.
Housed in a grand 1847 Greek Revival building, The Atheneum (library) is the cultural center of the community. Attend a lecture in the Great Hall where Emerson, Thoreau, and Douglas lectured long ago.
The Maria Mitchell campus is the science center of Nantucket, with a natural history museum, an observatory, and an aquarium. Maria Mitchell was a Nantucket native who became a famous woman astronomer and educator. In addition, the MMA hosts various bird watching events and nature tours.
The Egan Maritime Institute is the only organization dedicated exclusively to Nantucket’s maritime heritage. Headquartered in the 1854 Greek Revival Coffin School, it also operates a wonderful new Shipwreck and Lifesaving Museum.
The Nantucket Lightship Basket Museum is dedicated to preserving the rich history of basket making on Nantucket.