The arts, in all of their marvelous manifestations--visual, performing, and literary--thrive on this diminutive island. From art classes and art galleries to eclectic entertainment, festivals, historic sites, lectures and theater, Nantucket is renowned for its multitude of artistic and cultural offerings.
Local artisans express their abundant creativity in the arts of painting, scrimshaw, glassworks, photography and more. Scrimshanders and lightship basket makers continue to ply their age-old crafts, with the fruits of their labor appearing in local shops and museums. Nantucket Island School of Design & the Arts (NISDA), the Artists Association of Nantucket (AAN), and the Nantucket Historical Association 1800 House all offer diverse classes to the public year-round, and NISDA runs a vibrant, year-round Artist-in-Residence colony. A flurry of well-attended annual festivals commemorate the arts, books, comedy, film and wine. Museums and historic sites showcase the island's abundant and varied cultural history, from iconic lightship baskets, Maria Mitchell (America's first female astronomer, born on Nantucket), African and Quaker Meeting Houses, as well as the Shipwreck and Lifesaving Museum, dedicated to the island's late 19th and 20th century lifesaving efforts. In January 2016, the Massachusetts Cultural Council approved designation of the "Nantucket Cultural District," certifying that the island's arts and cultural community is worthy of distinction, attested to by visitors from around the world. The Nantucket Cultural District includes most of the island's primary historic downtown core--an essential element in preserving Nantucket's cultural integrity.
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Arts, Culture & Entertainment