The Cold Spring Harbor Whaling Museum collects, preserves, and exhibits objects and documents pertinent to whaling, especially the regional whaling history of Long Island, whale conservation, and the history of Cold Spring Harbor as a maritime port. The Museum serves a broad and diverse public audience.
The Cold Spring Harbor Whaling Museum has served three generations of Long Islanders, having opened its doors to the public in 1942. The Whaling Museum is the only facility on Long Island and in New York State open year-round which focuses primarily on the whaling history of the region. Its collection provides the community and its constituents with a significant link to the understanding of one of Long Island’s earliest major industries- whaling. The collection was formed by the local community who recognized the need for a repository to preserve the region’s local maritime history and Cold Spring Harbor’s whaling past.
The Museum’s object and archival holdings of 6,000 artifacts document the whaling and general maritime history both of Cold Spring Harbor and Long Island in general. Highlights of the collection include New York State’s only fully-equipped 19th century whaleboat with original gear and one of the notable scrimshaw collections in the northeast. Additional objects include whaling implements, ship’s gear, navigational aids, ship models and maritime art. The library and archival collection contains 2,800 primary and secondary volumes and manuscript material from the Cold Spring whaling fleet, ship’s logs, journals and business correspondence of the Cold Spring Whaling Company, family documents dealing with maritime commerce on Long Island, records of the Long Island coastwise trade under sail and records from the Cold Spring Harbor Customs House (1798-1908).
Through a combination of permanent and changing exhibitions, special events and educational programs the Museum uses its resources to the fullest to provide services to the public. In 1999 attendance at the Museum was 55,000 visitors who came from the local region as well as 45 different states and 39 countries. The Museum provides one of the most extensive and innovative Museum education programs on Long Island, with 25,000 school attendees and group visitors annually.
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