Natural Science Collections

The Maria Mitchell Natural Science Museum is a depository for important scientific specimens from Nantucket, Tuckernuck, and Muskeget Islands. The Museum contains plants, birds (the Edith F. Andrews Ornithology Collection), marine life, mammals, and invertebrates (insects, spiders, etc.). Many of these collections were started decades ago and thus, not only do they represent important local species records, but they also document how the species composition has changed throughout recent history. Collections can be viewed for research or educational purposes by contacting the Director of Natural Science.

 How many specimens are there in the collections?

Plants and Vertebrates

Herbarium (plants): 4,500
Ornithology (birds): 1,400
Mammalogy (mammals): 80
Ichthyology (fish): 105
Reptiles and Amphibians: 33

Invertebrates (insects, spiders, worms, millipedes, etc.):

Marine: ~20
Terrestrial: ~3,000 (see the spider list)
Shells: ~500
Fossil Shells: 46

In 2009, MMA joined in partnership with the Museum of Comparative Zoology in Cambridge, MA.  Duplicate specimens are deposited there so that scientists world wide have better access to Nantucket specimens.  The Maria Mitchell Natural Science Museum maintains on island the complete collection listed above.

Nantucket Biodiversity Library

cecropia_Program_imageThe Nantucket Biodiversity Library is a database of publications concerning the natural world of Nantucket.  All papers and articles are archived in the collections of the Maria Mitchell Association.

Electronic Field Guide to Invasive Plants

efgimageThere is an electronic field guide to the invasive plants of Nantucket produced with the help of UMass Boston and the Nantucket Biodiversity Initiative.  This will identify many of the plants in your yard!

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