Maria Mitchell Finds New Home For Aquarium On Washington Street

Nantucket Current •

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The Maria Mitchell Association (MMA) announced this week that it has found a new, temporary home for its aquarium as it launches a capital campaign this year for a permanent location.

The non-profit has inked a five-year lease agreement with island resident Rick Kotalac and the Nantucket Anglers Club to utilize the property located at 32 Washington Street. The MMA will use the waterfront location to move its aquarium operation - which had been operating at 28 Washington Street - while also enhancing its educational programming, and expanding its retail store, which will now include basic marine supplies.

For more than 40 years, the MMA has operated its aquarium to inspire island children of all ages to learn about Nantucket's natural ecosystems. The organization plans to continue its living exhibits, marine science programming, and environmental education in the new, temporary location at 32 Washington Street.

Last October, the MMA unveiled its preliminary plans to build a new aquarium facility at 33 Washington Street, along with a capital campaign to fund the construction. The project is expected to take approximately four years to complete.

Around the same time, the Nantucket Anglers’ Club announced that it had reached a deal to buy the waterfront property at 32 Washington Street for $5 million from Kotalac. The property on Nantucket Harbor, which Kotalac ran for decades as Brant Point Marine and later leased to island resident Mike Allen who operated the Tidal Creeks Ship Store, will eventually become the new home of the Nantucket Anglers' Club. But first, the deal provides for a five-year period in which Kotalac will be allowed to occupy and lease the property, allowing for the new deal with the MMA.

“We are grateful to have found this transitional home through Rick Kotalac and the Anglers Club," said MMA executive director Joanna Roche. "It is critical to have secured this location for our aquarium, as we continue to develop plans for the expansion of our property located across the street at 33 Washington Street.”

The MMA will open its expanded retail store in May, with the aquarium opening on June 10, 2024, along with the organization's other sites.

In November 2023, the MMA announced the permanent closure of the 28 Washington Street aquarium and its future planning efforts to reimagine the 33 Washington Street property.

The non-profit will be taking down the existing buildings, preserving the front building, part of the old Nantucket Railroad to be utilized in the MMA’s new aquarium and science center at 33 Washington Street, and returning the site at 28 Washington Street to the Nantucket Land Bank.

The MMA entered into a land swap with the Land Bank in 2012 and has been leasing the property since then. The MMA will formally begin its related capital campaign in the summer of 2024 to fund the design and construction of the new center.

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The former Brant Point Marine and Tidal Creeks Ship Store at 32 Washington Street.
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The preliminary design for the MMA's new aquarium facility on Washington Street.
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