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Summer on Nantucket Exhibit to Open this May in the Whaling Museum

The Nantucket Historical Association (NHA) will open a new featured exhibition, Summer on Nantucket: A History of the Island Resort, at the Whaling Museum Memorial Day weekend; it will run through November 2023.  Containing more than 200 artifacts from the NHA’s collection, the exhibit tells the story of Nantucket as a summer destination, from the opening of the first tourist hotels in the 1840s to the multi-billion-dollar real-estate, construction, and rental economy of today.

“We are excited for this exhibition which highlights so many items from our collection, all while telling the story of how Nantucketers reinvented their island from a whaling port past its prime to one of the world’s most sought-after summer destinations,” says Niles Parker, Gosnell Executive Director. “That transformation has brought opportunities and challenges that the island continues to grapple with. This exhibition explores a variety of themes showing that Nantucket history is about much more than whaling.”

Visitors will be invited to explore iconic impressions of Nantucket summer through paintings, trade signs, souvenirs, and more.  As well as exploring the most important questions a resort town faces, “what to do, where to eat, and where to stay.” The exhibit will then dive into how “It’s Not All Roses” by recognizing the hard work of seasonal employees and year-round residents throughout the history of the island’s transformation, with many downsides to its popularity from one hundred years ago still existing today.

Summer on Nantucket: A History of the Island Resort will open at the Whaling Museum for a special member preview on Thursday, May 25, and to the public on Friday, May 26.

In addition to Summer on Nantucket, the exhibit Island People: Portraits and Stories from Nantucket will remain on display at the Whaling Museum, with an exciting new addition of the newly conserved 1851 painting called Nantucket Indian Princess by Hermine Dassel, on loan from the Rhode Island Historical Society. This portrait depicts eleven-year-old Isabella Draper, a young islander of mixed Nantucket Wampanoag and African American heritage. An exhibition of new acquisitions to the collection will also be displayed at the Whaling Museum, including the painting Cranberry Pickers by Eastman Johnson and important works by Nantucket’s most notable female artist from the turn of the twentieth century, Elizabeth Rebecca Coffin.

The Hadwen House will be opening Memorial Day weekend and will display a stunning new exhibition featuring over 100 Nantucket lightship baskets and a reinstalled José Reyes Workshop for visitors to enjoy.

Learn more and plan your visit today at NHA.org. The Whaling Museum and Hadwen House will continue offering FREE admission for year-round island residents. 

The Nantucket Historical Association’s mission is to preserve and interpret the history of Nantucket through its programs, collections, and properties, in order to promote the island’s significance and foster an appreciation of it among all audiences.  

Articles by Date from 2012