The Nantucket Historical Association (NHA) preserves and interprets the history of Nantucket through programs, collections, and properties, to promote the island’s significance and foster an appreciation of it. In the spirit of this mission, during the past five months, the NHA has been in discussion with the Nantucket Lightship Basket Museum (NLBM) regarding a formal affiliation that will join these two entities.
At the NHA’s February Board meeting, trustees present voted unanimously in favor of this affiliation. The NLBM Board is also in favor of this affiliation. On Monday, March 29, at a special meeting, the NLBM membership voted overwhelmingly to proceed.
There is much excitement about the possibilities presented by this joint effort and how it may best benefit our island community. The lightship basket craft is unique to Nantucket Island, and it is very much alive and must be honored, nurtured, and treasured.
A new gallery at the NHA’s Broad Street campus called Nantucket Lightship Basket Museum Gallery and dedicated to Nantucket crafts will be a key part of the affiliation. Once the existing location of the NLBM at 49 Union is vacated and sold, the proceeds will be directed in large part to the creation of this new gallery. This will place the lightship basket story in the heart of the NHA’s primary facility.
Until this gallery is built, displays will be exhibited at Hadwen House on Upper Main Street and in the Decorative Arts Gallery at the Whaling Museum. This year’s exhibit at Hadwen will be curated by Kathleen Myers and will showcase 100 baskets from the NLBM. The beloved Josė Reyes workshop will be displayed in the Decorative Arts Gallery at the Whaling Museum.
With education and scholarship being key tenants of both the NHA and NLBM, basketmaking will be integrated into the NHA’s year-round offerings of craft classes for children, youth, and adults. These missions will be manifested in scholarship, publications, oral histories, and in-person and virtual programming. It is anticipated that the combined lightship basket collection will grow, with the clear goal of building comprehensive and world-class combined holdings.
Importantly, the NHA family welcomes the NLBM founding-members, members, docents, and demonstrators as together these two treasured Nantucket organizations weave a new chapter in the story of Nantucket Lightship Baskets.