EcoTarium Plans Significant Changes Through Winter

WORCESTER (Mass.) – The EcoTarium, an icon in the Worcester community for nearly 200 years, will make significant changes later this year due to the unprecedented COVID pandemic.

With attendance down nearly 90 percent, the Board of Trustees met Thursday night to explore ways to secure the future of the renowned science museum. While details aren’t yet final, the museum plans an extended closure to visitors through the fall and winter. An undetermined number of staff reductions also will be necessary.

“While the pandemic is requiring us to make significant changes, we understand how difficult navigating this uncertainty has been for our dedicated staff,” said Board Chair Paul Belsito. “We respect and appreciate their commitment to this institution, and we will need their continued support as we face this rough road together.”

The EcoTarium’s resident animals remain on-site and continue to be well cared for, and museum leaders are committed to exploring new sources of revenue that could help shorten the length of the planned, extended closure period.

The Board also renewed its commitment to its leadership team, which took pay cuts earlier this year as the COVID crisis heightened.

“Since her arrival nearly two years ago as an important change agent, President and CEO Lucy Hale has instituted improvements and needed change across the EcoTarium,” Belsito said. “The board has full confidence in her and the rest of our leadership team, and we’re grateful for the difficult decisions they’ve already had to make throughout this challenging time.”

Recent surveys by the American Alliance of Museums have indicated that up to a third of museums nationwide may close due to the pandemic.

This year was set to be one of the most successful financial years the EcoTarium had seen in decades, with record attendance last year positioning it well for the future. However, in mid-March, the COVID outbreak forced leaders to pause and reset, closing the museum at the height of the spring season.

“The museum has been challenged by this pandemic like no other crisis in its history, but we will weather the storm and come out stronger on the other side,” Hale said. “We’re determined that the EcoTarium will remain a vibrant resource for Worcester-area families for years to come.”