”We especially need imagination in science. It is not all mathematics, nor all logic,
but it is somewhat beauty and poetry.” Maria Mitchell
Founders of the Maria Mitchell Association
In 1908, the Maria Mitchell Association completed an observatory that still stands next door to Maria’s birthplace where public lectures in astronomy are offered. It houses the 5-inch Alvan Clark telescope that was given as a gift to Maria by the Women of America, headed by Elizabeth Peabody, in 1859. By the 1920s, the Association also offered classes in natural science for adults and children, continuing Maria’s legacy of “learning by doing.”
Today, the Maria Mitchell birthplace is dedicated solely to interpreting the life of Maria Mitchell and her family, and to introducing each new generation to the incredible history of this pioneering woman scientist. The Maria Mitchell Association’s Vestal Street campus also includes Hinchman House, which now houses the natural science museum, and a science library open for research by appointment. The Loines Observatory on Milk Street, with domes built in 1968 and 1998, features a 24-inch research telescope and an 8-inch Clark telescope, the later of which is used to show celestial objects to the public at Open Nights. In 1988, the present Aquarium building on Washington Street, originally a ticket office for the Nantucket Railroad, opened to the public. The Maria Mitchell Association is dedicated not only to preserving Maria’s personal legacy, but also to educating all its visitors about the flora and fauna of Nantucket Island and the wonders of the skies which Maria dedicated so much of her life to observing. Maria Mitchell Association staff and visitors alike bring Maria’s words to life:“We have a hunger of the mind which asks for knowledge of all around us, and the more we gain, the more is our desire; the more we see, the more we are capable of seeing.”
Learn more about today’s Maria Mitchell Association.