Celebrate Maria Mitchell’s 203rd Birthday with the Nantucket Maria Mitchell Association
Nantucket, MA – August 1, 2021 marks the 203rd birthday of Maria Mitchell, America’s first woman astronomer. In 2020, the Nantucket Maria Mitchell Association (MMA) was unfortunately forced to cancel her birthday open house that the MMA has been hosting since we opened our doors to the public on 1903.
While there is a light at the end of the tunnel with restrictions being lifted, this year the MMA felt it was safest delay our large in-person open house celebration another year. Typically, Maria Mitchell’s Birthday Open House sees an average of 300 people at out sites on Vestal Street with music, birthday refreshments, free museum visits, and all sorts of activities and displays for children, families, and adults.
This year, to mark her birthday, the MMA has devised several activities (with prizes!) designed to allow Maria’s birthday festivities to go on while maintaining social distancing and other public safety measures: a historical family scavenger hunt, a photo contest, and a drawing contest!
The family scavenger hunt will bring participants on a tour of some of the places where Maria lived, worked, or made new discoveries. Beginning on Monday, July 26th, participants will be able to pick up a scavenger hunt from the brochure box on Vestal Street across from the Research Center, from one of our open properties, or download it directly from the website here:
Participants can drop off their completed scavenger hunt sheets in the box outside the Vestal Street Observatory between Monday, July 26th and noon on Saturday, August 14th. On Monday, August 16th, the MMA will randomly select a completed and correct form and the winner will receive a 2022 MMA Family Membership! Scavenger hunts are a great activity to bring your family together and allows all ages to take part. And, it’s something that was very popular in the nineteenth century though back then it was more along the line of letterboxing and orienteering and no 21st century technology!
Another way to celebrate Maria’s birthday this year is to participate in our photo contest! One of the MMA’s core missions is to create opportunities for all to develop a life-long passion for science through education, research, and first-hand exploration of the sky, land, and sea of Nantucket Island. In keeping with this mission, the theme of the photo contest is Natural Nantucket. Photos of anything and everything natural and/or native to Nantucket – natural resources, landscapes, flora, fauna, sky, land, sea – are welcome. Though most famous as an astronomer, Maria Mitchell was also a naturalist with profound interest in Nantucket’s flora and fauna. Through this photo contest, participants can reflect on what Maria Mitchell and the Maria Mitchell Association means to them.
This contest will have a division for teens (ages 13-18) and adults (ages 18+). One winner will be selected from each division. Winners will have their work featured on our social media and receive a 2022 MMA Family Membership along with one of our popular new MMA hats! Entries may be posted using the Google form found on our website from Monday, July 26, 2021, through Saturday, August 14, 2021. The winners of each division will be announced and prizes will be distributed on Monday, August 16, 2021. To learn more about the rules of the contest or make an entry, please visit our website:
Lastly, for the youngest members of the family, the MMA will be hosting a drawing contest for children under 12. Similar to the photo contest, the theme of this contest is Natural Nantucket. The MMA invites participants to create hand-drawn or digital artwork inspired by the stars/the sky, any natural feature, landscape, flora, or fauna occurring on Nantucket, and submit their artwork using the Google form on our website.
This contest will have a division for children ages 7 and under, and children ages 8-12. Entries may be submitted Monday, July 26, 2021, through Saturday, August 14, 2021 and the winners of each division will be announced and prizes will be distributed on Monday, August 16, 2021. Winners will have their work featured on our social media and receive a Maria Mitchell Association gift bag, including a 2022 MMA Family Membership and items from our gift shop! For more information or to make an entry, please visit our website:
The Maria Mitchell Association 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.