Maui News

Exhibit Features Shipwreck Found in Northwestern Hawaiian Islands

August 15, 2012, 10:44 AM HST
* Updated August 15, 11:08 AM
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Two Brothers exhibit, Nantucket. Photo courtesy, Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument and UNESCO World Heritage Site.

By Wendy Osher

A new exhibit featuring a shipwreck found in the northwestern Hawaiian islands opens in Massachusetts tomorrow.

The Lost on a Reef exhibit features displays and research information on the Two Brothers vessel, which wrecked on a stormy night in the French Frigate Shoals on February 11, 1823.

The Two Brothers is recognized as the first discovery of a wrecked whaling ship from Nantucket. The ship was also captained by Captain George Pollard Jr., who previously commanded the ill-fated Essex, the story of which inspired the storyline for Herman Melville’s epic tale, Moby Dick.

Archaeologist Kelly Gleason, the Maritime Heritage Coordinator for Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, will introduce the exhibit during the opening festivities.


Gleason will describe the discovery of the 19th century wreck site, and the research that ensued which led to the positive identification of the vessel.


The exhibit, on display at the Nantucket Historical Association’s Whaling Museum, highlights the maritime heritage of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, and presents findings and artifacts from NOAA research missions.

Kelly Gleason examines a try pot. Photo by Bert Ho, NPS: courtesy, Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument and UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Gleason will also describe the delicate efforts made in retrieving and conserving nearly 200 year old artifacts from the sea floor at the wreck site.

“The exhibit and the artifacts are great examples of the way that archaeology can help to make the distant past very real and tangible,” said Gleason. “Forging a partnership between Papahānaumokuākea and the community of Nantucket through shared maritime history has been really rewarding and inspiring for everyone involved,” she said.


The display is planned as a traveling exhibition, and aims to share the seafaring history of Papahānaumokuākea, the largest marine protected area in the country, and the nation’s first mixed natural/cultural World Heritage site.

Gleason will also give an update on recent survey work at the shipwreck site and filming for an upcoming documentary that took place in July.

In Hawaiʻi, there is a “Lost on a Reef” exhibit on permanent display at the Mokupāpapa Discovery Center in Hilo on Hawai’i Island.

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