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Nantucket Shipwreck & Lifesaving Museum

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Address: 158 Polpis Rd, Nantucket, MA 02554
Phone Number: 508-228-1885
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10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Closed now
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Sun - Sat 10:00 am - 5:00 pm

In the 19th Century, hundreds of ships passed by Nantucket Island each day,...

In the 19th Century, hundreds of ships passed by Nantucket Island each day, all navigating without the benefit of modern nautical technology. Unpredictable storms, dense fog and strong currents often caught even the most experienced sailors off guard. Treacherous shoals and inclement weather led to over 700 shipwrecks in the surrounding waters of Nantucket, causing the area to be dubbed "a graveyard of the Atlantic."The Nantucket Shipwreck & Lifesaving Museum preserves the memory of those Islanders who risked their lives to save shipwrecked mariners. These men served in organizations devoted to maritime rescue, such as the Massachusetts Humane Society, United States Life-Saving Service and the United States Coast Guard.The Nantucket Shipwreck & Lifesaving Museum is located at 158 Polpis Road, just 3.5 miles from Nantucket Town. The museum can easily be reached by car, NRTA Shuttle/Polpis Route or by the Polpis Bike Path. We are open from Thursday, May 23 through Columbus Day, Monday, October 14, 2013 from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily. Admission costs are free for members, $6.00 for adults, $4.00 for youth 5 - 17 and free to children under 5. The Nantucket Shipwreck & Lifesaving Museum is proud to be part of the Blue Star Museum program that offers free admission to active duty military and their families.Come visit the Nantucket Shipwreck & Lifesaving Museum and enjoy guided tours, films, new exhibits, family-friendly programs, special events and more, designed to appeal to all ages.

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TripAdvisor Reviewer Highlights

Read all 89 reviews
Visitor rating
  • 63
  • 24
    Very good
  • 1
  • 1
  • 0
Nice Small Museum on the Island

Family-run museum with friendly and knowledgeable guides who live on the island year-round. We learned a lot about this history of the lifesaving crews of Nantucket.

4 of 5 starsReviewed December 15, 2015
New York City, New York
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89 Reviews from our TripAdvisor Community

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Traveler type
Time of year
New York City, New York
Level Contributor
23 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 24 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 15, 2015

Family-run museum with friendly and knowledgeable guides who live on the island year-round. We learned a lot about this history of the lifesaving crews of Nantucket.

Thank acimeow
Stratford, Connecticut
Level Contributor
65 reviews
24 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 10, 2015

A great place to visit on a rainy day. The tour guide was very informative as he described how people were saved in an era without motorized boats.

Thank Bob-1812
Level Contributor
25 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 11, 2015

Caring, knowledgeable staff and such a great history lesson on the early days of ships, shoals, lighthouses and lifesaving! Excellent exhibits, great movies in a nicely done theater area and great selection of artifacts and ship logs from the many shipwrecked ships in Nantucket's early days! Make the time to visit here!

1 Thank ACKluv
White Stone, Virginia
Level Contributor
17 reviews
8 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 10, 2015

Lovely setting and great museum. Anyone interested in the history of the island will enjoy museum. The stories of the lifesaving efforts are incredible!

1 Thank Linda P
Bedford, New Hampshire
Level Contributor
99 reviews
28 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 36 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 28, 2015 via mobile

This museum made us aware of the dangerous shoals all around Nantucket and gave us a great appreciation for the Coast Guard and its history. A great way to spend an hour and the tour guides are fabulous. Within biking distance of town and also a nice stop of you are biking from town to Sankety Lighthouse and Siasconset.

1 Thank Granitestater87
Westchester County, New York
Level Contributor
113 reviews
51 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 57 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 26, 2015

This is a diamond of a museum. The setting is park-like with water side rolling green lawn, distant vistas, and architecturally pleasing structure. There is a child appropriate breeches buoy swing set outdoors. Inside you will find interactive displays and vintage lifesaving pieces. There are knowledgeable individuals who can answer questions about the lifesaving service and development of the United... More 

Thank sailorgirl123
hunterdon county new jersey
Level Contributor
23 reviews
11 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 5, 2015

fun place to stop in and hear about local shipwrecks. well thought out musuem with a very helpful staff

1 Thank colliemagic
North Dartmouth, Massachusetts
Level Contributor
17 reviews
13 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 4, 2015

Enjoyed learning about the heroic rescues by Nantucketers. The surrounding waters were very treacherous and well trained rescue teams were essential. It was awe inspiring to hear the stories of the Nantucketers who risked their lives many times over to save others

Thank Outdoorsys2080
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Level Contributor
201 reviews
46 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 91 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 3, 2015 via mobile

We enjoyed the museum but especially our tour guide whose name I wish I remembered! He is retired Coast Guard, and a masterful storyteller with wit and wisdom to share. Our bike tour group was fortunate to have a picnic lunch on the grounds of this beautiful little spot.

Thank ValerieinVB
Level Contributor
75 reviews
20 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 31 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 31, 2015

Fascinating little museum that tells the history not only of shipwrecks, and there were many, around Nantucket, but also of the lifesaving efforts of brave men and women who went to the rescue. The guided tour is excellent, the film clip interesting, and the displays really well done and supportive of the theme of the museum. It really is small... More 

2 Thank Lynn F

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