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Shipwreck & Lifesaving Museum

Shipwreck & 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; 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.


Shipwreck & Lifesaving Museum

158 Polpis Rd, Nantucket, MA 02554

Accessibility Information


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.


Open Seasonally

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


Blue Star Museum: Free admission to the nation’s active-duty military personnel and their families, including National Guard and Reserve.

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

Included with museum admission, every visitor enjoys:

  • Free guided tour
  • Short films with on-demand viewing
  • Folger's Marsh view and discovery
  • Scenic outdoor picnic seating
  • Access to the annual special exhibition

Included with museum admission, young patrons enjoy:

  • Breeches buoy swing set
  • Ship's rigging rope wall
  • Knot tying boards
  • Marshall the Sea Dog

Weekly children's programs in July and August


Contact information