Shipwreck & Lifesaving Museum

Egan Maritime SLM Logo

The Nantucket Shipwreck & Lifesaving Museum, an affiliate of Egan Maritime Institute, is dedicated to honoring Nantucket's history of shipwrecks, lifesaving, and rescuers. The museum sits at the edge of Folger’s Marsh, and the grounds are open year-round. The public is welcome to visit one of the most scenic sites on the Island for the view, enjoy a picnic, or watch the wide variety of birds interacting on the marsh.

This summer, we are proud to unveil two new exhibits. The Monaghan Gallery will showcase The US Coast Guard and Its Nantucket Missions of Rescue, Environmental Protection, and Maritime Law Enforcement. The newly renovated boathouse will feature a new exhibit: Risk, Rescue, & Recognition: Nantucket's Heroes of the Sea. This redesign is part of our larger goal of updating the visitor experience at the museum. The museum team, plus two incredible museum exhibit designers, have been hard at work renovating the space while maintaining the museum's character. These new exhibits will be a must-see for everyone this summer.

We hope you will join us for our annual fundraiser and the grand opening of our newest exhibit: Risk, Rescue, & Recognition: Nantucket's Heroes of the Sea.

Hours and Directions

Open May 27, 2024 - October 14, 2024

Monday - Saturday: 10 am - 5 pm

158 Polpis Road
Nantucket, MA 02554

Closed June 11th for Staff Training.

Closed July 12th for The Night at Museum Fundraiser


Members: Free
Adults (18+): $15
Seniors (65+): $9
Youth (6-17) and College Students: $7
Children (5 & Under): Free
Active & Retired Military: Free

Need a free ride to the Museum?
You can catch the Shipwreck Shuttle from Visitor Services at 25 Federal Street. The shuttle runs hourly from 10:30 AM to 2:30 PM, Monday through Saturday.

Ride the Wave!
This year, thanks to the generous support of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT), NRTA is thrilled to offer FREE rides on all routes from April 1st to September 30th. Take the Sconset via Polpis Road Route (purple route)! There is a convenient stop right in front of the museum.

2024 - Daily Programs & Activities!

Museum Tours and Tales

Admission to the Nantucket Shipwreck and Lifesaving Museum includes a complimentary guided tour with one of our interpreters; however, our exhibits
accommodate those who prefer to proceed at their own pace. Visitors engage with stories and artifacts telling of the danger and bravery of Nantucket’s volunteer and professional lifesavers. With 800 shipwrecks around our island, plenty of tales exist.

We offer experiences such as a look at a rarely-seen artifact and listening to a seldom–heard sea story each day during the week.

Daily Family Activities -

Are you planning a trip to the Museum and looking for free, fun family activities? Come Monday through Friday from 10 am to 1 pm in July and August for unique outdoor activities featuring nautical crafts, marine science, rescue demonstrations, and much more! These outdoor events on the Museum grounds are free. On a nice day, bring a picnic lunch.

Unfortunately, if it's raining, we cannot offer any free activities. Instead, we invite you to join us inside the Museum, where interactive family activities are included in the price of admission.

Tours, Etc.:

We try to accommodate special requests for tours or social events throughout the year. Please feel free to contact us at (508) 228 1885 or

The Museum's Maritime Collection

In the 19th Century, hundreds of ships passed by Nantucket Island each day, all navigating without the benefit of modern nautical technology. As a result, unpredictable storms, dense fog, and strong currents often caught even the most experienced sailors off guard. In addition, treacherous shoals and inclement weather led to over 750 shipwrecks in the island's waters. As a result, the area was often called "a graveyard of the Atlantic."

Founded in 1968 as the first museum in America devoted to honoring volunteer and professional lifesavers, The Shipwreck & Lifesaving Museum preserves the memory of Islanders. They risked their lives to save mariners from the perils of the sea. Their inspiring stories come from men and women of the Massachusetts Humane Society, US Life-Saving Service, and the United States Coast Guard.

Although the collection greatly expanded over the years, founder Robert Caldwell, a US Coast Guard veteran of World War II, donated land and his private accumulation of lifesaving equipment to establish the museum.

"This museum could not be better"TripAdvisor Review

The Nantucket Shipwreck & Lifesaving Museum's permanent collection is due largely to the vision of Robert Caldwell, who returned home to Nantucket after serving aboard the United States Coast Guard Cutter Spencer during World War II. Deeply affected by his personal experience and intrigued by stories of the Coast Guard and its roots, Caldwell began collecting objects related to Nantucket's history of shipwrecks, lifesaving, and rescuers. In 1967 he donated his collection and a piece of his property for what was to become the Nantucket Shipwreck & Lifesaving Museum.

"A rare gem of a museum."
TripAdvisor Review

Rent the Museum for Your Special Event

Nslm 2016 2

Remarkable events begin with unforgettable venues.

Remarkable events begin with unforgettable venues.

Call (508) 228-2505 or email to inquire about hosting your memorable moment at Nantucket’s hidden gem.

Each year, we produce a featured exhibit to enhance or expand the story of lifesaving on Nantucket.

Eganmembersopening 032 Katiekaizerphotography

Lifesavers Recognition Day Award

September 11 Lrd

Nantucket’s history is filled with stories of heroic lifesaving efforts by everyday citizens and those who went above and beyond the call of duty. Honoring that tradition, Egan Maritime Institute and the Nantucket Cottage Hospital recognize modern-day lifesavers annually on September 11, during the Lifesavers Recognition Day ceremony at the Nantucket Shipwreck & Lifesaving Museum.

  • Captain Brian Borgeson
  • First Mate Scott Riddle
  • BM3 John McNally
  • Nate Woodason
  • Town of Nantucket Lifeguards, represented by Sheila Lucey, Harbor Master
  • Jerome S. Reinert
  • Jim Sjolund
  • Joe Tormay
  • BM3 Keisha Ormsbee
  • BM3 Matthew Pugh
  • FN John Feniello
  • MK2 Sam Freedman
  • Austin Bentley
  • Alex Hauer
  • Claire Moisan
  • Martha Lake-Greenfield
  • Collin Perry
  • Jessica Norris
  • Marissa Affeldt
  • John Allen
  • Beau Barber
  • Sheila Lucey, Harbormaster
  • Ken Lappin, Assistant Harbormaster
  • Captain Jason Mleczko
  • Captain Thomas Mleczko
  • Gaven Norton
  • Curren Huyser
  • SN Daniel Kerr
  • USCG Brant Point
  • Captain Raymond Oliver
  • Pilot Bernardino Ramos
  • Nantucket Cottage Hospital
  • Fire and Emergency Services
  • Michael Eagan
  • Tris Gauvin
  • John Howard
  • Tim Reinemo
  • Kimberley Layman
  • Jim Sjolund
  • Town of Nantucket Lifeguards
  • Sergeant David Aguiar (Ret.)
  • Melinda Burns
  • Dave Fronzuto, Harbormaster
  • Sheila Lucey, Assistant Harbormaster
  • Johnny Backus
  • Robert McKee
  • Dwayne Dougan
  • Benjamin Firth
  • Katelyn Fitzpatrick
  • Trevor Hooper
  • Wayne Kampfhenkel
  • Andrew Quinn
  • Justin Dunham