Shipwreck & Lifesaving Museum

The Nantucket Shipwreck & Lifesaving Museum is open for the 2022 season!

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

2022 - Daily Programs & Activities!

Daily Family Activities
Join us every weekday July 5th - August 26th for drop-in kids/family activities at the museum! Activities rotate throughout the week from 10am - 4pm and give kids an opportunity to engage hands-on with topics from the museum like morse code, sail power, rope making, signal flags, and knot tying. And you won't want to miss our demonstrations of a shore to ship rescue when we set up our breeches buoy twice a day at 11am and 2pm! Activities are designed with kids 6-12 in mind but are adaptable for those younger or older too!

For the week of August 22th - August 26th, our drop-in kids/family activities at the museum will only be offered Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

From August 26th - October 10th, the Museum will remain open for all to enjoy1! Stop by and bring the whole family to discover tales of Nantucket's heroic lifesavers.


Museum Talks and Tours
Included with your admission to the museum is a guided tour of our exhibitions with one of our trained interpreters. These tours are a perfect way to get an introduction to the exciting stories in our collection!

Plus new this year, our Collections team will offer brief presentations, which will dive deeper into stories and topics covered on the tour. In addition, patrons will be treated to a new program called: ‘Collection Curiosities' will feature an in-depth look at one of the treasures from our collection.

Hours and Directions

158 Polpis Road
Nantucket, MA 02554

We are open for the season: May 27th - October 10th

  • Monday - Saturday : 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Admission:

Adults (18+) : $10

Seniors (65+): $7

Children & College Students: (6 -17): $7

Members: Free!

Need a free ride to the Museum?
Catch the Shipwreck Shuttle from Visitors Services, 25 Federal Street, on the half-hour, starting at 9:30 AM, returning from the Museum on the hour (last ride at 5:00 PM), Monday through Saturday from May 30 through October 10.


Tours, Etc.:
We are usually able to accommodate special requests for tours or social events throughout the year, so please feel free to contact us at (508) 228 1885 or museum@eganmaritime.org

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) 228-1885 or email museum@eganmaritime.org 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.

2017
  • Captain Brian Borgeson
  • First Mate Scott Riddle
  • BM3 John McNally
  • Nate Woodason
  • Town of Nantucket Lifeguards, represented by Sheila Lucey, Harbor Master
2016
  • Jerome S. Reinert
  • Jim Sjolund
  • Joe Tormay
2015
  • BM3 Keisha Ormsbee
  • BM3 Matthew Pugh
  • FN John Feniello
  • MK2 Sam Freedman
  • Austin Bentley
  • Alex Hauer
  • Claire Moisan
2014
  • Martha Lake-Greenfield
  • Collin Perry
2013
  • Jessica Norris
  • Marissa Affeldt
  • John Allen
  • Beau Barber
  • Sheila Lucey, Harbormaster
  • Ken Lappin, Assistant Harbormaster
  • Captain Jason Mleczko
  • Captain Thomas Mleczko
2012
  • Gaven Norton
  • Curren Huyser
  • SN Daniel Kerr
  • USCG Brant Point
  • Captain Raymond Oliver
  • Pilot Bernardino Ramos
  • Nantucket Cottage Hospital
  • Fire and Emergency Services
2011
  • Michael Eagan
  • Tris Gauvin
  • John Howard
  • Tim Reinemo
2010
  • Kimberley Layman
  • Jim Sjolund
  • Town of Nantucket Lifeguards
2009
  • Sergeant David Aguiar (Ret.)
  • Melinda Burns
  • Dave Fronzuto, Harbormaster
  • Sheila Lucey, Assistant Harbormaster
2008
  • Johnny Backus
  • Robert McKee
2007
  • Dwayne Dougan
  • Benjamin Firth
  • Katelyn Fitzpatrick
  • Trevor Hooper
  • Wayne Kampfhenkel
2006
  • Andrew Quinn
2005
  • Justin Dunham