Nantucket, MA – Earlier this week, the Nantucket Maria Mitchell Association’s Executive Director, Dave Gagnon, released a statement regarding the Association’s plans in light of the Coronavirus/COVID-19 Pandemic (Pandemic). “This Pandemic has impacted every one of us, both from a personal, as well as an economic perspective,” shared Gagnon. “Most of us know someone who has become seriously ill, is facing financial uncertainty, or has lost their job. It is heartbreaking. This outbreak has forced the Nantucket Maria Mitchell Association to make a decision that would not seem possible even four short weeks ago. Based on our analysis, we determined that we will not be able to operate our facilities and offer programming at the level we have in past years, including our award-winning Discovery Camp program. We have also cancelled our major summer fundraiser, the Stargazer Gala, scheduled for July 9,” stated Gagnon. “We are working on an alternative event to the Gala and will keep our Members and Supporters informed as plans are solidified. Our priority is to ensure the health and safety of our staff, interns, volunteers, visitors, and Island community.”
Over the last month, the MMA have found ways to virtually share content and experiences that people have come to know and look for from us, such as the Nantucket Science Festival which was held in a virtual form and which is still available online for people to participate in via at-home experiments and activities. The MMA’s various social media platforms are being updated regularly with activities, content, and science challenges. The MMA’s educators have been working with Nantucket teachers to provide STEM curriculum ideas and hands-on, at-home activities. And although the Pandemic significantly limits the MMA’s summer offerings, the MMA remains optimistic that it will be able to offer limited programming later into the summer. The MMA is working on ways to continue our popular Science Speaker Series every Wednesday night whether it be virtually or in person with social distance seating. We hope to offer limited capacity tours at the Mitchell House, and are planning ways for visitors to continue to meet the animals, bird watch, and observe the night skies with us.
The MMA’s education programming will continue. The MMA’s research will continue. So please stay tuned. While the MMA’s doors may be closed physically, the doors are still open virtually and the MMA is hoping to widen that entry later this summer.
This decision is very difficult and will result in a significant reduction in the MMA’s income but the MMA feels strongly that this is the right decision for the safety of its staff, interns, volunteers, visitors, and the Nantucket community.
The Nantucket Maria Mitchell Association (MMA) is a private non-profit organization. Founded in 1902, the MMA works to preserve the legacy of Nantucket native astronomer, naturalist, librarian, and educator, Maria Mitchell. The Maria Mitchell Association operates two observatories, a natural science museum, an aquarium, a research center, and preserves the historic birthplace of Maria Mitchell. A wide variety of science and history-related programming is offered throughout the year for people of all ages.