Maritime and Naval Museums: Massachusetts, USA


Boston National Historical Park

Charlestown Navy Yard,
PO Box 1812,
Boston, MA 02129.

Telephone: +1 617 242 5601.

Opening hours: 10:00-15:00.

USS Constitution Museum

Charlestown Navy Yard,
PO Box 1812,
Boston, MA 02129.

Telephone: +1 617 426 1812

Opening hours: March - May, daily 10:00-17:00; June - Labour Day, daily 09:00-18:00; Labour Day - November, daily 10:00-17:00; December - February, daily 10:00-16:00; Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day.

Museum ships:

Museum of Fine Arts

465 Huntington Avenue,
Boston, MA 267-9300.

Opening hours: Tuesday, Saturday, Sunday, 10:00-16:30; Wednesday, 10:00-21:30; Thursday - Friday, 10:00-17:00 (West wing 10:00-21:30).

There is a fine ship model gallery in the basement of the museum. Scattered in the museum galleries are also marine paintings by American primarely 19th century artists.

Among the many models exhibited might be mentioned:

The models have been described in:


Hart Nautical Gallery

Bldg. 5, 1st floor,
Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
77 Massachusetts Avenue.


Opening hours: Daily 09:00-17:00.

The Francis Russell Hart Nautical Museum was founded in 1921 as part of the Department of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering at the MIT.

In 1996 one part of the exhibit illustrates the development of the ship through some 40 models. Among these the 1/96 scale model of the fishing schooner Fredonia (1889) built by Erik A.R. Ronnberg, Jr, is the most exquisite example of miniature ship building.

A large part of the exhibition is currently devoted to the US wartime shipbuilding effort.


Essex Shipbuilding Museum

Box 277,
28 Main Street,
Essex, MA 01929.

Telephone: +1 508 768 7541.

Opening hours: May—October: Thursday - Sunday, 11:00-16:00.

The Essex Shipbuilding Museum was founded in 1976 by the Essex Historical Society. It is housed in the former Essex Central School House, built in 1835, and located in the center of Essex. The museum is dedicated to the industry that built more than 4.000 two-masted schooners. A collection of 20 ship models on loan from The Smithsonian Institution's Watercraft Collection are on display.

Museum ship: Evelina M. Goulart (1927), a fishing schooner.

Fall River

Battleship Cove

Central & Water Streets,
Fall River, MA 02721.

Telephone: +1 508 678 1100.

Museum ships:

Self-guided tour of the battleship including hand-held radio listening devices that give audio background on the ship.

Marine Museum of Fall River

70 Water Street,
Fall River, MA 02722.

Telephone: +1 508 674 3533

Opening hours: Monday-Friday, 09:00-16:30; Saturday, Sunday & holidays, 10:00-17:00.

The museum, which is particularly oriented towards steam ships, also illustrates the history of the Fall River Line (1847-1937). There are more than 100 ship models, including an 8,5 meter long model of the Titanic.


Cape Ann Historical Museum

27 Pleasant St.
Gloucester, MA 01930.

Telephone: +1 508 283 0455.

Opening hours: March — January, Tuesday-Saturday 10:00-17:00.

Fishing and paintings of Fitz Hugh Lane.

Gloucester Fishermen's Museum

Rogers & Porter Streets,
Gloucester, MA 01930.

Telephone: +1 508 283 1940.

Opening hours: Monday-Saturday 10:00-16:00, Sunday 12:00-16:00.

Harbor Loop

Telephone: +1 508 283 0455.

The fishing schooner Adventure built in 1926. Last old-time Gloucester schooner still sailing.


Hull Lifesaving Museum

1117 Nantasket Avenue,
Hull, MA 02045.

Telephone: +1 617 925 5433.

Opening hours: July — August: Wednesday-Sunday, 12:00-17:00; September — June: Saturday-Monday & holidays: 12:00-17:00.

The museum is located in the former Old Point Allerton Lifesaving Sation.


Nantucket Historical Association

2 Union St.

Telephone: +1 508 228 1894.

Whaling Museum

Broad Street,
Nantucket Island, MA 02554.

Telephone: +1 508 228 1894.

Opening hours: 28 May — 12 October: daily, 10:00-17:00; 13 October — 31 December, 1 March — 27 May: Saturday & Sunday, 10:00-17:00; Closed during Christmas.

The collections include the whaleboat of the whaling bark Sunbeam.

The Research Center contains [1990]:

New Bedford

Schooner Ernestina

10 Union St.

Telephone: +1 508 992 4900.

The schooner Ernestina was built in 1894 for Grand Banks fishing. During the World War II she was attached to the US Navy. She has also been employed in carrying immigrants between the Cape Verde Islands and New England.

New Bedford Whaling Museum

18 Johnny Cake Hill,
New Bedford, MA 02740.

Telephone: +1 508 997 0046

Opening hours: daily, 9:00-17:00, Sundays, 13:00-17:00; July and August: Sundays, 11:00-17:00. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's. The research library is open weekdays 9:00-12:00 and 13:00-17:00.

The New Bedford Whaling Museum, which was founded in 1907, is the largest museum in America devoted to the history of the whaling industry.

The main building is dominated by a 31 meters (89 feet) long, half-size model of the whaler Lagoda.

There is also a long series of large (6 ft. x 11 ft.) portraits of 19th century New Bedford whaling ships especially painted for the museum by C. S. Raleigh in 1879.

More than 1.100 whaling ship logbooks are available in the research library.


Custom House Maritime Museum of Newburyport

25 Water Street,
P.O. Box 306,
Newburyport, MA 01950.

Telephone: +1 508 462 8681.

Open hours: April—January: Monday-Saturday, 10:00-16:30; Sunday, 13:00-16:00.

The museum is located in a former customs house built in 1835.


Plimouth Plantation

The Mayflower II, a reconstruction of the Mayflower of 1620, is docked at a recreated Pilgrim settlement and Wampanoag Indian village.


United States Naval Shipbuilding Museum

739 Washington Street,
Quincy, MA.

Telephone: +1 617 479 7900.

Opening hours: daily 10:00-17:00.

Museum ship: USS Salem (1947), CA-139, a Des Moins-class heavy cruiser.
A new museum at the former Bethlehem Steel shipyard, Quincy.


Salem can be reached by commuter train from the North Station, Boston, taking the Ipswich or Rockport bound trains or by bus #450 or #455 from Haymarket, Boston.

Peabody Essex Museum

East India Square,
Salem, MA 01970-3783.

Telephone: +1 978 745 9500.

The oldest continuously operating museum in the United States, the Peabody Museum of Salem, was founded in 1799 by mariners and merchants of the East India Marine Society. The Essex Institute, founded in 1821, is the fourth oldest historical society in the country. In July, 1992, these two museums merged to form the Peabody Essex Museum.

The combined collections represents nearly half a million objects, the research library contains a million photographs and negatives, 400.000 volumes of books, and 2000 meters of manuscripts [1994].

The quarterly journal The American Neptune which has been published since 1941, is America's premier journal on maritime history and arts. Individual subscription rates for 1994 are USD 39:- and outside the United States, USD 42:-.

Salem Maritime National Historic Site

Custom House,
174 Derby Street,
Salem, MA 01970.

Telephone: +1 978 744 4323.


Kendall Whaling Museum

27 Everett Street.
P.O. Box 297,
Sharon, MA 02067.

Telephone: +1 617 784 5642.

Opening hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 10:00-17:00.

The museum, which was founded in 1956 around a family collection begun in 1899, is reputed for having the finest scrimshaw collection in the world.

The Kendall Whaling Museum features eleven maritime galleries housing an international collection of nautical art, history, and ethnology celebrating the age-old human fascination with whales.

The Museum is particularly renowned for its sumptuous Dutch and Flemish paintings, engravings, and "Delft" tiles; British and Continental whaling artworks spanning ten centuries; Japanese paintings and prints; Pacific Ocean, Eskimo, Northwest Coast Indian and other tribal art; and fully-equipped Yankee whaleboat, ship models, and whaling gear from New England.

There are monthly members' events; and the world-renowned annual Whaling History Symposium each October.

Updated 1999-04-22 by Lars Bruzelius,

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Copyright © 1996 Lars Bruzelius.