Reopened after a grand multimillion-dollar renovation, this museum is a showpiece in the region. Appropriately, it is housed in a former spermaceti-candle factory (candles used to be made from a waxy fluid extracted from sperm whales). Kids will love the awe-inspiring skeleton of a 43-foot finback whale (stranded in the 1960s), and adults will be fascinated by the exceptional collections of scrimshaw and nautical art. (Check out the action painting, Ship Spermo of Nantucket in a Heavy Thunder-Squall on the Coast of California 1876, executed by a captain who survived the storm.) A wall-size map depicts the around-the-world meanderings of the Alpha, accompanied by related journal entries. The admission price includes daily lectures on the brief and colorful history of the industry, like the beachside "whalebecue" feasts that natives and settlers once enjoyed. Don't miss the gift shop on the way out.
- © Frommer's 2013
- Very Highly Recommended 2010