Wednesday, September 5, 2018

The Whaling Museum on Nantucket

I went to the Nantucket Historical Association's Whaling Museum (13 Broad Street Nantucket Massachusetts). Whaling was the island's primary industry back in the 1800s. There was no photography allowed but no mention of no sketching. The museum took several hour to wander through and the rooftop patio has amazing views over the historic downtown district.

The crew of the Essex were hunting in 1820 and 20 crew members set out in 3 small life rafts to chase an enraged sperm whale. In return the whale destroyed their ship and the men spent 96 day sailing thousands of miles across the ocean to safety with limited water and supplies. This harrowing tale of survival was apparently the basis for such classic tales as Herman Melville's Moby Dick and the Ron Howard film, In the Heart of the Sea.

The museum houses a large collection of whaling artifacts and memorabilia, including longboats, harpoons, and scrimshaw, but the centerpiece is the complete skeleton of a 46-foot (14 meter) bull Sperm whale suspended from the ceiling. True to its original use as a candle factory, the museum also has exhibits regarding that trade as well. The exhibited beam press (used to extract oil from the spermaceti to make candles) is the only one in the world still in its original location.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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