Maria Mitchell Association
May 2, 2023

The Maria Mitchell Association is a non-profit organization that is located on the beautiful island of Nantucket, Massachusetts. After Maria Mitchell’s passing in 1889, her former students, family, and admirers established this association in her honor in 1902. The M.M.A. keeps Maria’s memory alive by preserving her home, papers, and other artifacts. They also promote astronomical and natural science research and provide interactive and educational programs for all ages. This ensures that Maria Mitchell’s memory is kept alive and her legacy continues to benefit generations to come.

The great Maria Mitchell was an iconic figure in Nantucket’s history. She was a champion for women’s rights and education in the 19th century. She is renowned for being the first professional American female astronomer, having discovered a telescopic comet in 1847. Her worldwide fame earned her numerous awards and achievements. Her life serves as an inspiration to many women striving to make their mark in the world.

The Association has a few properties connected to Maria Mitchell. These buildings are spread out in different sections of the island. Each symbolizes her work and reminds her of the importance of her accomplishments.

  • The Historic Mitchell House, located at 1 Vestal Street, is the birthplace of Maria Mitchell, built in 1790, and is home to the Mitchell family from 1816. It is home to many artifacts and items of Maria Mitchell and her family,  personal items including one of her telescopes. The research library at the house is home to Maria Mitchell’s documents, personal library, and a special collection of rare books. It’s a treasure trove of astronomy, natural sciences, and Nantucket-related material from as far back as the 1600s.
  • The Natural Science Museum at 7 Milk Street is an exciting blend of a classic natural history museum, a zoo, and a science center. It is a great destination for all ages, allowing one to explore Nantucket’s plants, animals, and birds.
  • The Maria Mitchell Aquarium is at 28 Washington Street, right on the waterfront of Nantucket Harbor. Here, you can observe the local marine creatures in their natural habitats, learn about their ecosystems, and delve into the island’s biodiversity. There you can explore the amazing sea life around Nantucket!
  • The Loines Observatory is truly a sight to behold. With two domes built in 1968 and 2006, this place houses the antique 8-inch Alvan Clark telescope and a 24-inch research telescope that has been refurbished. This research observatory provides an opportunity to explore the wonders of the night sky and learn more about astronomy. Whether you want to get the most out of a backyard telescope or take part in one of their astronomy workshops, the knowledgeable astronomy team can assist you in uncovering the mysteries of the stars. Discover the secrets of the night sky and gain the skills to navigate by the stars, all in one place. Located on 59 Milk Street Extension, you can also book your own customized private event through its private events program. For more information, visit their website.
  • The Vestal Street Observatory, located at 3 Vestal Street, is a site of research and lectures. Constructed in 1908, it’s home to a 7.5-inch telescope. The observatories are also open for public tours, programs, and lectures, with special events occurring throughout the year.
  • The Nantucket Land Bank and Nantucket Maria Mitchell Association have come together to bring the amazing Discovery Playground to Hinsdale Park. In 2019, it opened its doors to the public, and everyone could go and enjoy the playground every day.
  • The Research Center is home to various historical and current collections, such as herbarium, entomological, ornithological, mammalian, and geologic, which date back over a century. In the 1830s, it was built as William Mitchell’s schoolhouse, and in 1919, it began its new life as the MMA Science Library. In 1933, a stucco-sided wing was added to the building, which housed Maria Mitchell’s papers, library, and a remarkable collection of science-related books. In 2018, the building was restored and now serves as a repository and a laboratory space. To visit the Research Center yourself, you can find it at 2 Vestal Street. You can check the website or contact them via phone for more information about opening times.

The Maria Mitchell Association is no ordinary organization – they are deeply committed to science and research. For over a century, the Astronomy Department of the Association has been pushing the boundaries of understanding and exploring a variety of celestial objects and phenomena. They have left no stone unturned, from planets to star clusters, interstellar clouds, and galaxies.

The VMA Museum of Natural History is connected to the Association and is the go-to place for research on land animals and plants. It offers interns, local students, and volunteers opportunities to participate in projects focusing on biodiversity and rare species. Marine research is also conducted and collaborated on with the Association, and they have looked into biodiversity, population dynamics, and invertebrate reproductive physiology.

In addition, the Maria Mitchell Association also provides everyone with the chance to become a community scientist. You can join in on their projects and do your part to help with important research. Watch for new projects and learn how to get involved here.

The Maria Mitchell Association provides a wide selection of events and programs for adults and children of all ages. From the star-gazing activities at Loines Observatory to their Discovery Camp programs, you can find the perfect experience for you on their website. Get ready to set off on an adventure that will stay with you for years!

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