Shipwreck & Lifesaving Museum

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The Nantucket Shipwreck & Lifesaving Museum is now closed for the 2021 season. We will reopen on Memorial Day Weekend in 2022.

Year-round you are welcome to visit our lovely grounds situated at the edge of Folger's Marsh—with one of the best natural views on the Island. Pack a lunch and some beverages and take advantage of the tables and benches that we offer. We are located 158 Polpis Road.

Any questions our email address is


"A must if visiting the island", "This museum could not be better", "A rare gem of a museum", "A noble and fascinating place" - A sampling of TripAdvisor reviews from 2021.

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.

Our Museum

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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; life-saving equipment; the daily routine at a life-saving station; and the workings of the United States Coast Guard in modern day.

From a collection of over 5,000 artifacts, other highlights of the museum include period surfboats; beach carts; vintage photographs; and a Fresnel lens from Brant Point Lighthouse and Great Point Lighthouse.

Hours and Directions

Nantucket Shipwreck & Lifesaving Museum is open annually Memorial Day through Columbus Day. If you would like to schedule a visit outside of the summer season or discuss a group tour, please call Egan Maritime's administrative office at (508) 228 - 2505.

Shipwreck And Lifesaving Map


158 Polpis Road, Nantucket, MA 02554

When the Museum is open, there is a FREE Shipwreck Shuttle from Nantucket Visitors Services located in downtown Nantucket at 25 Federal Street to the Museum at 158 Polpis Road. The museum may also be reached easily by car, The Wave Shuttle/Polpis Route or via the Polpis Bike Path. We are just 3.5 miles from Nantucket Town.

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Open from Friday of Memorial Day weekend to Monday of Columbus Day weekend.

Monday to Saturday: 10:am-5:00pm. Sunday: Noon-4pm

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Free to Members
Adults: $10
Seniors and Students: $7
Youth 6-17: $5.00
Children under 6: Free

During the summer of 1967 there was a buzz on Nantucket: Robert “Bob” Caldwell was dreaming of a way to share his extensive collection of lifesaving memorabilia with the public. That fall Bob gathered with island pal H. H. Kynett, former trustee of the Mystic Seaport Museum, and local mariners and marine enthusiasts Robert F. Mooney, Paul C. Morris, Jr., Charles F. Sayle, and Edouard A. Stackpole to make plans for a museum.

In 2004 the Museum was enfolded into Egan Maritime Institute. In 2008, 40 years since incorporation and after a $3-million capital campaign to renovate, reinterpret, and rebrand, the Nantucket Shipwreck & Lifesaving Museum opened to the public. And the rest is history.

Rent the Museum for Your Special Event

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Each year since reopening the doors in 2008 following the campaign to renovate and reinterpret the Museum, Egan Maritime produces a new exhibition in the Monaghan Gallery to further tell the dramatic histories of Nantucket's shipwreck and lifesaving legacy.

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Permanent Collections

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.

Lifesavers Recognition Day Award

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 Nantucket Cottage Hospital recognize modern-day lifesavers annually on September 11 during the Lifesavers Recognition Day ceremony at the Nantucket Shipwreck & Lifesaving Museum.

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  • Captain Brian Borgeson
  • First Mate Scott Riddle
  • BM3 John McNally
  • Nate Woodason
  • Town of Nantucket Lifeguards, represented by Sheila Lucey, Harbor Master
Lrd 2017
  • Jerome S. Reinert
  • Jim Sjolund
  • Joe Tormay
Lrd 2016
  • BM3 Keisha Ormsbee
  • BM3 Matthew Pugh
  • FN John Feniello
  • MK2 Sam Freedman
  • Austin Bentley
  • Alex Hauer
  • Claire Moisan
Lrd 2015
  • 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
Lrd 2013
  • Gaven Norton
  • Curren Huyser
  • SN Daniel Kerr
  • USCG Brant Point
  • Captain Raymond Oliver
  • Pilot Bernardino Ramos
  • Nantucket Cottage Hospital
  • Fire and Emergency Services
Lrd 2012
  • Michael Eagan
  • Tris Gauvin
  • John Howard
  • Tim Reinemo
Lrd 2011
  • Kimberley Layman
  • Jim Sjolund
  • Town of Nantucket Lifeguards
Lrd 2010
  • Sergeant David Aguiar (Ret.)
  • Melinda Burns
  • Dave Fronzuto, Harbormaster
  • Sheila Lucey, Assistant Harbormaster
Lrd 2009
  • Johnny Backus
  • Robert McKee
  • Dwayne Dougan
  • Benjamin Firth
  • Katelyn Fitzpatrick
  • Trevor Hooper
  • Wayne Kampfhenkel
Lrd 2007
  • Andrew Quinn
Lrd 2006
  • Justin Dunham

Support The Museum

Please help us continue the mission of the Nantucket Shipwreck & Lifesaving Museum by clicking HERE