Museums, Programs, Historic Sites

Nantucket Shipwreck & Life-Saving Museum

Nantucket Shipwreck & Life-Saving Museum

158 Polpis Road
Nantucket MA 02554

508-228.2505 x12

Nantucket Shipwreck And Lifesaving Museum

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 features permanent and changing exhibitions that will fascinate both children and adults. Permanent exhibits are devoted to the history of Nantucket lifesaving, famous shipwrecks and rescues around the island, life-saving equipment, daily routine at life-saving stations, and the United States Coast Guard today. From a collection of over 5,000 artifacts, other highlights of the museum include period surfboats, beach carts, vintage photographs, a Fresnel lens from Brant Point Lighthouse, and another from Great Point Light.