MOUNT DESERT — The Naturalist’s Notebook, the “exploratorium–shop” in Seal Harbor that for the past 10 seasons has celebrated science and nature, will not reopen, owner Craig Neff announced last week.
He said in an email to friends and “encouragers” that it is time to leave the place “that came alive each summer with nature, science, fun, interactive installations, learning, shopping, creativity, great people and the amazing 13.8-billion-year history of the universe.”
Neff said he plans to continue the Notebook online.
He created the shop with his wife, Pamelia, who died in 2018.
“To me, the Notebook could never be the same without her creativity, energy, passion and brilliance,” he said.
Neff had planned to open the shop July 1 for one last season.
“But because of its touch-and-try-everything nature and the tight spaces…it’s not possible to do so in a way that is safe and responsible in this time of the COVID-19 virus,” he said. “But as the Notebook has always made clear, evolution and change are a constant part of life in this vast universe.”
Neff said the three-story building at 16 Main Street in Seal Harbor that the Notebook occupied will be for sale.
“I’m open to selling it in its current form, with merchandise and installations included, if someone wanted to continue the Notebook as a nature-science enterprise,” he said. “That would be my dream.”
Neff said the way people of all ages responded to the Notebook over the past decade has been gratifying. He recalled, particularly, “the times when parents thanked us for helping their young daughters become interested in science, and when children told us they loved the Notebook so much they wished they could live there, and when visitors from across the U.S. and around the world asked if we could open a Naturalist’s Notebook branch in their home city or country.”