One of the few free activities for kids on Nantucket, the Maria Mitchell Natural Science Museum is a cross between a classic natural history museum, a zoo, and a science center. It is a great place to learn about the plants, animals, and birds of Nantucket. Visit us to learn how Nantucket came to be an island, identify currently flowering plants, and discover the six species of snakes that inhabit our island!
Exploring Life on Nantucket
Our job at the Science Museum is to document the species that live on Nantucket and provide opportunities for visitors to learn about them. The Museum’s collections are an important resource for researchers and form the backbone of the public exhibits. Our newest exhibit shows a massive aggregation of rodent bones found in a very old barn owl box.
Coming soon: Name the Hingeback Tortoise! This tortoise was found in 2012 walking next to the Atheneum in a rain storm. It is originally from Africa and is most likely an escaped (or released) pet. It has a great personality and enjoys grazing clover in the museum yard.
Gift Shop and Field Gear
Visit the Museum gift shop to pick up educational toys and books as well as excellent binoculars, field guides, insect vials, and butterfly nets. Come to us to outfit yourself for a summer outdoors!
Natural Science Museum Exhibits
Live Animal Room
The Natural Science Museum is home to snakes, frogs, turtles, insects, and spiders. These are the stars of our popular Carnivorous Critters and Meet the Animals programs. Some animals live with us year round and visit the schools in the winter. Other animals just spend the summer with us and are then released back into the wild each fall.
We have a collection of over 900 bird specimens representing most of the species seen on Nantucket. Some of these are on display in the Museum in seasonally changing exhibits that highlight interesting groups of birds or interesting behaviors.
An entire room in the Museum is devoted to things found on the beach. Identify shells, bones, and other objects and learn how Nantucket is in a constant state of change.
Hands-on Activity Areas
Each week our interns come up with new activities for visitors to try out and explore. Some of the standards include Ecosystem Jenga, bird gliders, coloring, and Nano technology activities. Come test your creativity!