2010 to present


Wild Cat Station Opens! One of the Largest Mountain Lion Exhibits in New England.

At the heart of Wild Cat Station, presented by The Hanover Insurance Group Foundation, is a dramatic and intimate experience of a set of mountain lions in their natural New England habitat. Utilizing and transforming the former polar bear habitat, the sibling cats are home in their re-created mountainous terrain while visible from multiple viewing angles by our visitors.

The brother and sister kittens were found emaciated and orphaned in Half Moon Bay, California and brought to Oakland Zoo for vet care. The EcoTarium worked with the zoo through Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife for safe transport of the cats.

An exciting part of the new exhibit is how the mountain lion kittens were named: the male name was auctioned off at EcoTarium’s signature fundraiser A Night at the Museum held on April 27, 2019. “Salton” was chosen; it is a combination of the two last names of the winning bidders.  Female mountain lion-naming rights were first extended to EcoTarium members, the public was given the opportunity to vote on their narrowed-down list. “Freyja” is the female name after a close race.

Learn more about Wild Cat Station


The EcoTarium reaches a record breaking attendance of 178,000 for the year!


The EcoTarium reaches a record breaking attendance of 170,863 for the year!


The Explorer Express Train re-opens, after two years, with refurbished tracks, crossing gates, coaches, as well as various upgrades along its route.


The EcoTarium becomes the official Museum Outreach Partner of PBS Kids' "Plum Landing" produced by WGBH Boston.

The Nature Explore Outdoor Exhibit, a certified Nature Explore® Classroom, becomes the newest permanent exhibit at the EcoTarium. The interactive outdoor exhibit features several play areas designed to connect families to nature.

The EcoTarium becomes a Museum Partner of National Geographic (the first in New England!) and the Alden Digital Planetarium is re-named the Alden Digital Planetarium: A National Geographic Theater.


The EcoTarium creates two new outdoor places to play, with the Imagination Playground on the Lower Courtyard and the Play on the Plaza exhibit on the Sundial Plaza, featuring the popular Bubbles! exhibit, a Tube-A-Phone musical sculpture, and space for temporary exhibits to be prototyped.

The EcoTarium partners with the Worcester Think Tank to create Think Tank at the EcoTarium (TTE) classes, to provide students with an engaging, interesting and effective program for enhancing education while learning to work with peers in a nurturing and supervised environment.


The EcoTarium becomes an associate member of the Association of Children's Museums.

Joe Cox becomes president of the EcoTarium.

DinoTracks opens, an exhibit produced by the Environmental Exhibit Collaborative, a group of mid-sized natural science and children’s museums organized by the EcoTarium.


Kenda the polar bear dies at the age of 27.

The Arctic Next Door: Mount Washington exhibit opens on the museum's Upper Level. The exhibit transforms the museum entrance, adding an engaging, interactive exhibit experience focused around New England weather and geology. It is the first of several guest experience enhancements planned as part of the EcoTarium's Third Century Plan.


EcoTarium unveils a new three-story glass wall, the Hirsh Telecommunications Center and classroom wing, a landscaped terrace and Food Pavilion, and new exhibits related to water.

2000 to 2010


The EcoTarium launches The Third Century Plan, a multi-year fundraising effort that is focused on enhancing experiences for museum visitors into the institution's third century of operation.

EcoTarium adopts a new logo to reflect the energy and excitement of visiting the EcoTarium.


Kenda celebrates her 25th birthday making her the oldest living polar bear born in captivity. Also this year, polar bears are named the first threatened species due to global warming.


The Alden Planetarium is upgraded with state-of-the-art digital technology making it the only publicly accessible digital planetarium in the state.


EcoTarium unveils a new three-story glass wall, the Hirsh Telecommunications Center and classroom wing, a landscaped terrace and Food Pavilion, and new exhibits related to water.

1960 to 1999


 EcoTarium opens several new attractions, including the first Tree Canopy Walkway in the nation to open to the public. Also:

  • a river otter habitat
  • bald eagle and snowy owl aviaries
  • nature trails
  • pond pier and pavilion
  • new Museum Store


 The museum adopts the name EcoTarium and breaks ground for the first phase of an $18 million expansion and renovation program.


The museum rearticulates its mission to promote appreciation, increase knowledge and foster stewardship of New England environments.


The name changes to the New England Science Center to reflect a broader audience.

December 1, 1983

Polar bears Ursa Minor and Ursa Major give birth to Kenda, the first polar bear to be born and raised in New England.


 A new facility, designed by renowned 20th century architect Edward Durell Stone, opens on 60 acres of donated land on Harrington Way. The name is changed to the Worcester Science Center to join the trend of science and technology centers whose commitment to public education is demonstrated through a combination of exhibits and programming.


The Worcester Natural History Society changes its name to the Worcester Science Museum.

1900 to 1959


Museum exhibits and the Goddard mineral collection are moved to the Morgan House on Cedar Street. Live animals, a planetarium, an auditorium and other collections are housed at the Rice House on Elm Street.


The summer home of F. J. Harold Daniels on 325 acres in Rutland is donated for a school of forestry, wildlife management and conservation and is used today by the Summer Discovery Camp.


The Natural History Society Training School opens on 80 acres in Paxton.


Amateur astronomers form the Aldrich Astronomical Society in Worcester, named for the late mathematician who popularized the study of the sky.

1825 to 1899


The museum moves to the Old Edwin Conant Mansion at the corner of State and Harvard streets.


The Natural History Camp is founded on the shores of Lake Quinsigamond, the first of its kind in the country. Open to boys ages 10-20, the camp is billed as offering, "Health, athletic sports, military drill, instruction in study of nature and careful oversight for him, freedom from anxiety for you."


 The Worcester Lyceum and the Natural History Department of the Young Men's Library Association combine and join the Worcester Natural History Society to become the Worcester Lyceum and Natural History Society. At that time, the museum's live animal collection included:

  • two snakes
  • two owls
  • one alligator

October 1, 1867

The grand opening of the Natural History Rooms on the third floor of the Worcester Bank Block on Foster Street draws 250 people.


The Worcester Natural History Society forms.


Women begin to participate in the Natural History Society and play important roles in the creation of social and fund-raising activities.

April 27, 1849

Henry David Thoreau makes the first of several speaking engagements in Worcester. In the course of more than a dozen trips to the city, Thoreau found time for visits to the Natural History rooms.

January 1, 1825

 Worcester Lyceum of Natural History is founded by a group of 14 men to foster an appreciation and understanding of the natural world.