The Museum’s collection attests to Long Island’s maritime heritage based in the whaling industry. The majority of the Museum’s collections were donated over time, starting as a community repository from the Museum’s founding in 1936.
A portion of the collection, particularly the archives, are digitized with free public access.
Totaling 6,000 pieces, most items speak to the 19th century whaling industry, specifically Long Island whaling, as well as the local history of Cold Spring Harbor and its growth as a maritime port. When possible, artifacts are integrated into educational programming.
The collection includes:
The Whaling Museum received 19 ships in a bottle donated by the Kappel family in honor of collector Lester Kappel.
Over the past 83 years, the Museum acquired an extensive and varied collection of 6,000 artifacts.
We welcome research requests.
The museum loans objects and photos to appropriate institutions (not individuals). Please email our Collections & Exhibits Coordinator with a formal request, including a description of the project, timeline, and facilities report. At least 6 months lead time is suggested.
The vast majority of the museum's collections are made up of generous and thoughtful donations by the local community. The museum primarily accepts donations which document the general maritime history both of Cold Spring Harbor and Long Island, as well as pieces which are part of the general American whaling story. We also accept donations which help our educators teach programs about science, art, culture, and history.
If you are interested in donating a piece to the collection, first please check out our guidelines. An appointment is required to bring your item to the museum; donations cannot be accepted without one.
Please note we do not appraise any items, as museums are legally prohibited from doing so. We do not authenticate pieces or place value on items. Those seeking this information should contact an appraiser or auction house.