Living Sharks Museum – Westerly, Rhode Island - Atlas Obscura

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Living Sharks Museum

Westerly, Rhode Island

Tucked away in downtown Westerly is America's first shark history museum.  


An easel on the sidewalk suggests a pop-up-style shark museum exhibition hiding on the third floor of one of many historical buildings in the heart of downtown Westerly. A coastal town in Rhode Island, Westerly is known for its sandy shoreline access, world-renowned surf haunts, and sleepy upscale living communities.

Rhode Island tracks its shark population using modern tracking technology. The Living Sharks Museum is far ahead of the curve in educating the public on the sharks that populate the waters. Keith Cowley, the museum’s curator, has amassed a collection of artifacts from around the world that has become ample enough to be considered an educational research center including a library of nearly 150 current and historical (many scarce) titles.

Inspired by conservation, the museum maintains a grounded exhibition of fossil material, historic relics, biological samples, and the latest research technology, as well as several visual representations outlining the plight of sharks. If willing to engage the curator (who has a lifetime of unique shark-related experiences to draw from), it’s easy to spend an hour or more inside. Visitors often leave far more aware of how necessary sharks are to the ecosystem, along with knowledge on how to ensure their future. 

Know Before You Go

Living Sharks Museum is always FREE to the public, open Fridays & Saturdays 10 a.m.-6 p.m., or by appointment. Researchers welcomed. Street parking and elevator available. 

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April 6, 2021

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