FeaturesGreat value, Family-friendly
Anyone fascinated by Herman Melville's Moby-Dick—or, more recently, Nathaniel Philbrick's In the Heart of the Sea—will find plenty to learn in this quaint downtown museum. Occupying a former spermaceti candle factory, where candles were once made from whale oil, the museum now contains several airy exhibition halls filled with artifacts, photos, portraits, and ephemera from Nantucket's historic whaling days (roughly the late 1700s to the mid-1800s). Under the direction of the Nantucket Historical Association, the museum was carefully restored in 2005. Especially compelling is the reassembled skeleton of a 46-foot sperm whale (which died on a beach near Siasconset in 1998), suspended from the ceiling of the museum's entry hall since the restoration. Be sure to check out the view of the harbor from the museum's observation deck. It's the same vantage point that many of Nantucket Town's oldest houses enjoy from their towering widow's walks—the verandas where the wives of sea captains used to pace and watch the horizon for their husbands to return.