Nantucket is an island teeming with a colorful past, and you cannot discuss the history of Nantucket without shipwrecks and heroic lifesaving efforts. That is why the Egan Maritime Institute has sponsored the creation of the Nantucket Shipwreck and Lifesaving Museum.
The Nantucket Shipwreck and Lifesaving Museum is full of exhibits detailing the over 800 shipwrecks around the Island and the bravery of the lifesavers. In addition, the museum has become a hub for fun activities for the whole family to enjoy throughout the summer months. Keep reading to learn more about the museum and its many offerings.
What is the Nantucket Shipwreck and Lifesaving Museum?
The Nantucket Shipwreck and Lifesaving Museum is dedicated to honoring the history of shipwrecks and rescuers on Nantucket. The museum is an affiliate of Egan Maritime Institute, whose mission is to preserve and celebrate Nantucket’s seafaring heritage.
In addition to its wide array of exhibits, the museum also offers the following:
- A rotating featured annual exhibit
- Guided tours of the museum
- Daily family-friendly activities
- Event space for rent
- Different sailing activities
Where is the Museum Located?
The Nantucket Shipwreck & Lifesaving Museum is located on the edge of one of the most picturesque parts of the Island, Folger’s Marsh. The address is:
158 Polpis Road, Nantucket, MA 02554
If you are visiting Nantucket without a car, you can get a free ride from the Nantucket Visitor’s Center. Shuttle’s run every half hour from 9:30 AM to 3:30 PM.
Is the Nantucket Shipwreck and Lifesaving Museum Free?
The museum does allow the following list of people in for free:
- Active & retired military
- Children under the age of 5
If you do not fall under one of those categories, there is a fee for entry. The fees include:
- Ages 18+ – $12
- Ages 65+ – $9
- Ages 6-17 & College Students – $7
Note that activities at the museum and sailing activities may come with an extra charge.
When is the Museum Open?
The Nantucket Shipwreck & Lifesaving Museum is open seasonally. In 2023, the museum is open from May 26th through October 9th. During that timeframe, the museum is open from Monday through Saturday from 10 AM to 5 PM.
If you are in Nantucket out of season, the Museum grounds are open year-round. Even if you are not able to get into the museum, it is worthwhile visiting the grounds for the beautiful views.
What are the Upcoming Activities and Events?
The museum does offer free family activities daily from July 5th through August 31st from 10 AM to 3 PM. All these activities are outdoors and free! Some of the activities include:
- Nautical themed crafts
- Marine Science
- Rescue demonstrations
In addition to the reoccurring activities listed above, there are several date-specific activities offered by the museum.
Folger’s Marsh Kayak Tour (August 9th)
Join the Nantucket Conservation Foundation on an eco-tour through the waters of Folger’s Marsh. Expert scientists and educators will lead the tour. The kayak tours are $40 for adults and $25 for children and include kayaks and necessary safety equipment.
Youth Adventure Sail on the Tall Ship Lynx (August 3rd)
Children ages 12 to 17 will have the opportunity to take a day-long voyage aboard the Tall Ship Lynx. Participants will actively participate in manning the ship and will learn traditional sailing skills. Tickets are $35 for members and $45 for non-members. The price includes launch fees and lunch.
Sailing Stitching and Sewing (July 20th)
Learn how to repair sails and upcycled old sails and ropes! This event is free and family friendly.
Sunset Sail and Sea Shanties (July 20th & August 8th)
Sail on the Tall Ship Lynx for a sunset cruise along the Nantucket Sound. While you are enjoying the views, a local musician will teach and play sea shanties.
Tickets are $100 for members and $125 for non-members. You are welcome to bring your own alcohol (BYOB) and snacks! The ship launches from the dock at 5:30 PM, and the cruise comes back at 8 PM.
Nanpuppets at Shipwreck and Lifesaving Museum (August 4th)
Watch a free puppet show on Friday, August 4th, at 10:30 AM on the museum grounds.
Sunset Sea Shanty Community Concerts (August 24th and September 7th)
Sponsored by the Nantucket Cultural District, join singers as they perform acoustic versions of sea shanties on the museum grounds. The concert begins at 5:30 PM and is free to attend.
What is the 2023 Featured Exhibition?
Each year the Shipwreck and Lifesaving Museum curates a featured exhibition. In 2023, the featured exhibition is Rum Runners and Rum Chasers: Nantucket, Prohibition & the U.S. Coast Guard. The exhibition focuses on the creation of the U.S. Coast Guard and how the government tasked the Coast Guard with unique law enforcement powers during the prohibition era.
Other Museums on Nantucket
Looking for other museums to visit on the Island? Check out the Nantucket Whaling Museum for a history of whaling on Nantucket and how it’s impacted the Island’s culture and economy.