Seal of Approval!

When he is thirteen years old, hanging out with Mom while she builds microscope chairs (or some other facilities or museum related activity) might not be too fun or exciting anymore.  But for a four-year-old?  Testing the new microscope station chairs for the Research Center proved exciting.  Trying to help Mommy build them?  Maybe not so easy – but sure fun to pop the bubble wrap.  He, of course, needed a lift up – but he says, “Good to go for the new Research Center!”


Thank You!

The MMA owes a big thank you to all the people who have completed the work on making the Science Library a research center for future generations of Nantucketers and visitors alike.

Greg Maskell Landscaping                                        Matt Anderson Carpentry

Kevin Wiggin HVAC                                                   Jim Tyler and Crew, Painting

Island Gas and Christian Yates                                  Milton Rowland Architects

Jim Badera and Badera Engineering                          Kevin O’Keefe, volunteering

Mike Freedman and Crew, Cabinetmaker                   Pen Austin, Masonry and                                                                                                          Paint Coatings

Jon Vollans and Vollans Electric                               Marden Plumbing

Wayne Morris, Mason                                                Evita Caune, basement floor                                                                                                       refinishing

Pioneer Cleaning, cleaning and waxing floors           David Ryan

Delta Designs Ltd.                                                     Toscana Corporation

Ellis and Schneider Electrical                                    Wayne Alarm

John Wathne and Structures-North                           Jim Johannes

Rich Sileo and landmark Facilities Group                 Andre Perry and KAM Appliances

Curran Huyser and Your Friend With A Truck            Marine Home Center

Budget Blinds                                                             Jonathan Miles Window Cleaning

Cape Cod Express                                                      Julia Blyth

PSA Laboratory Furniture                                          Eric Finger and Finger Boatworks

Cape Cod Air Grilles

If I forgot someone, I do apologize!

And a thank you, of course, to our donors – that group of special people to be listed soon.


And We Have Our Research Center C.O.

Otherwise known as Certificate of Occupancy – from the Town!

Our Research Center passed its inspection with the Town and now we are in the midst of cleaning, installing blinds, washing windows, and moving things around.  We await moving the collections in and new collections cabinets to arrive.  This summer, we will be up and running and there will be plenty of opportunities to take a peek.  You will find that the “renovation” was very light – taking into account the historic nature of the building and its historic fabric.  Once William Mitchell’s schoolhouse, it lived on Howard Street and after he sold it, it actually followed him to Vestal Street where it continued as a school, including for the Town as the West Introductory School.

When the MMA was given the building in 1919, it was picked up and moved less than 100 feet to sit where it does now.  It opened as the MMA Science Library in the early 1920s.  The stucco Wing was added in 1933.

We have gone to great lengths to preserve the exterior and interior of the building while making minor alterations for an accessible bathroom and accessible pathway, a laboratory-like space which has counters and a sink built into the existing library shelving, and a new state-of-the-art HVAC system for the collections’ protection.  I think anyone familiar with the interior of the building will note that it has not changed much.  But, with new coats of paint, some updated furniture for students and researchers, we are on our way to a better space in which the MMA can conduct its research, store its historic biological collections, and welcome students and researchers alike to learn about the unique environment of Nantucket – from the land to the water to the skies above.


And Now We Await Our Inspection . . .

Well, it looks as if we are pretty much finished with the Research Center!  We have some minor items, including cleaning (by the MMA staff), window washing, and the installation of the blinds, but we await our final inspection by the Town now.  So let us hope!  Then, will come moving in all the  collections – including the former circulating collection of books which went off for something of a cleaning and then await me to vacuum each and every book as I re-shelve them.  Takes me back a few years to when I cleaned the Special Collection books – with the help of some Mitchell House interns in summer – but this will be just vacuuming ̶   I don’t have to brush and sponge!  Yeah!

So stay tuned.  I know the Natural Science Department has some special collections open houses that will be free and no reservations necessary to members and non-members alike so take the opportunity to see the newly spruced up space this summer!


Almost There! Research Center Update


The door needed to be made wider for accessibility so we re-used its historic parts to do so.

The heat is on.  The plaster walls are complete in the accessible bathroom, the new wall is complete in the accessible bathroom, the remainder of the outlets and lights are complete, emergency lights have been replaced, exit signs installed, and we have one-coat of epoxy on the basement floors where the collections will be stored (note – its currently shinier than star covered patent leather clogs!).  Several styles of chairs have made a pass through the building and been sat upon by several for comfort testing and height requirements.  Alarm company has completed its install.  Microscope chairs are ordered and the knobs are on the cabinets!  And the state-of-the-art collections cabinets have been fabricated and patiently wait on the other side of the Sound for a call to bring them over.

First coat of epoxy.

Now, we await the bathroom’s plumbing and lab sink with its accessible eyewash.  Then a few more items that require plumbing for the HVAC completion, a structural engineer’s inspection, and environmental engineer’s inspection and THEN, we can apply for our final inspection!  It’s been a long-haul but nothing comes easy when you are trying to work with a historic building and respect its historic fabric and work with its wonderful idiosyncrasies!

All that said, I will not exhale until the dotted line has been signed on.   Maybe then I will finally sleep at night!

Stay tuned!


Research Center Update: We Have Heat!

Returning original lath to bathroom wall.

And a lot more!

Once things were worked out concerning the HVAC system and the HVAC room, things have now started to really move in the Research Center.  The HVAC system has not been easy – trying to fit a system that is needed for our collections inside of an existing building and not causing harm to historic fabric has been working in pretzel fashion – and fabricating a system in a pretzel fashion – and we owe a lot to Kevin Wiggin and his team for that.  Thank you!

The carpenter, Matt Anderson, and his team came in to complete the furnace and basement doors and to get the accessible bathroom back up and ready.  We have reused all the historic fabric – from baseboards and trim boards – to widening the old bathroom door.  And, Matt was able to save the lath from the walls in the bathroom where new updated plumbing lines had to go in due to code.  He re-installed the lath and then Pen Austin and her team came in and replastered the walls with lime plaster – just as they were!  Now we await the rest of the bathroom, some more cabinetry related items, and painting, as well as cleaning and coating the floors.

Lime plaster being prepared.

We are getting close – stay tuned!


Research Center: Another Update


We have had a busy summer.  The HVAC system took longer than expected due to the nature of working within the            framework – literally – of a 1830s building with a 1933 addition.  Remember, the 1933 stucco Wing is bunker-like to say the least.  There is no space behind the walls for wiring or ductwork so everything is exposed.  Add to that, we are working with a historic building with historic fabric and we are trying to preserve it all.

So, a lot of electrical work was done to update the wiring and to electrify the HVAC system once that was installed.  The HVAC system requires three condenser units outside and a vent through the chimney so we have had lots of different parties on-site.  Now, we are working on putting the walls in for the accessible bathroom and walling in the furnace room and the staircase that serves the Wing side of the basement.

As always – there are many to thank which I have done several times before but I will send a big thank you to those who have been currently working – Island Gas; Kevin Wiggin HVAC, Inc.; Ellis and Schneider, Inc.; (electrical), Matt Anderson (carpenter); Greg Maskell Landscaping; and Wayne Morris (mason).


What I Did On My Summer Internship

All of the interns at the Mitchell House has been very enthusiastic about learning the ropes of what happens in a historic house museum.  I want them to have the full experience and tell them at the beginning, they do everything I do except clean the bathroom.

From conservation and accessioning of artifacts to research projects in the depths of the archives to teaching children’s history classes.  They give tours to the public, help to host special events for both the Mitchell House and the MMA, develop small exhibits and special tours, work on other initiatives, and they get into some real serious cleaning projects among many other things.

Appropriate museum vacuuming is one such project – they all do it just as I do.  However, I seem to have found a kindred spirit in the vacuuming department this time.  While she has been working on a myriad of projects, including an in-depth research project on Mitchell family  portraits in the Mitchell House, Sabrina was practically grinning from ear-to-ear about vacuuming.  She LOVES it – probably because, in part with our HEPA museum vacuum that you wear on your back, she feels like a “ghostbuster.”  I have never had an intern that was so enthusiastic about this task.  I myself may not be vacuuming the Mitchell House until September – or else we may have to arm wrestle for who gets to vacuum!

Thank you, Sabrina!


Research Center Update

Lab sink area.

We can see more light at the end of the tunnel.  The HVAC is almost complete and the painters have been through both of the main floor rooms.  Cabinet faces have been painted and hung as well.  Basement walls are being painted and the new Delta Designs state-of-the-art collections storage cabinets are being drawn up as I write this.  The gas tank and lines have been installed.  The carpenter is moving back in to put up the walls around the furnace room and to build the accessible bathroom and basement interior entryway.  And, the cabinetmaker has completed installing all the supports for the countertops and the new microscope station.  Even grass has returned to the side yard thanks to our landscaper.

And it is also again time to thank all those who have been working with us on this project – and also patiently waiting for their role to begin or re-start!

Greg Maskell Landscaping                                      Matt Anderson, carpentry

Kevin Wiggin HVAC                                                 Jim Tyler and Crew, painting

Island Gas and Christian Yates                               Mickey Rowland, architect

Jim Badera and Badera Engineering                       Kevin O’Keefe, volunteering

Mike Freedman and Crew, cabinetmaker                Pen Austin, mason and paint coatings

Jon Vollans and Vollans Electric                               Marden Plumbing

Wayne Morris, Mason                                                Evita Caune, floor refinishing

Pioneer Cleaning, cleaning and floors                        David Ryan

Delta Designs Ltd.                                                      Toscana Corporation

Our neighbors on Vestal Street and Milk Street who have been patient with noise and people crawling all over the place!

And if I am missing anyone, I do apologize!


Microscope station.


Vestal Street Update

Toscana begins sewer line replacement.

Toscana Corp is back on Vestal Street!  This time, it’s one of the Hinchman House sewer lines that needs replacing.  It’s the old one I mentioned quite a few posts ago –  January 9, 2017 to be exact.  It’s the line that connects to the basement where there was once a toilet but now we connect to a lab sink – and the third floor where the MMA interns live in the summer, as well as off-season visiting groups like Worcester Polytechnic Institute among others.  So, the replacement is desperately in need!  A matching grant is making the work possible.  Yes, you can find grant money that can be used for a sewer line!

And, work to the Research Center continues.  The Wing has been painted inside and the sashes in the Main Room, as well as the first coat on the walls in the Main Room.  The HVAC installer is working away and the cabinetmaker has completed the microscope station top and is installing its wooden braces, as well as the braces for the other lab tops.  Once the HVAC is completed, the carpenter can begin the process of framing up the bathroom and the furnace room and then we will be bringing in the floor finisher for the basement.  The light is getting bigger at the end of the tunnel!

Labsink area with temporary support.