Release Date: 
Thursday, November 15, 2012

The EcoTarium, New England’s leading science and nature center, today provided an update on its Third Century Plan, announcing a major contribution from The Hanover Insurance Group Foundation that creates a matching gift program for corporate donors. The organization also provided an overview of recent enhancements, reviewed plans for additional improvements, and shared plans to expand outreach programs for the region’s schoolchildren.

New president Joseph P. Cox made the exciting announcements at a reception hosted by the EcoTarium’s board of trustees to formally introduce Cox to community members and friends. The EcoTarium’s Third Century Plan, named in recognition of its 200th anniversary, to be celebrated in 2025, provides an exhibit master plan—with new exhibits about mountain, forest, ocean and urban environments—as well as enhancements to educational programming, animal habitats, and guest amenities.

Foundation Support

Cox announced that The Hanover Insurance Group Foundation will make a $500,000 grant to its Third Century Plan, funding a matching gift program for corporate donors and to support the development of new educational outreach programs. The grant is the second made to the Third Century Plan by The Hanover’s foundation, which committed $1 million in 2009. Through its new pledge, The Hanover will encourage additional corporate support of the Third Century Plan, matching dollar-for-dollar, all contributions up to a total of $500,000.

“As we continue to upgrade the EcoTarium—making it a center for innovation—The Hanover’s most recent gift is incredibly meaningful, because it encourages other corporations to make contributions that support science and education,” said Cox. “At the same time, we are thrilled with the momentum of the Third Century Plan. Each new phase represents a dramatic step forward, helping us to build a world class museum that inspires a passion for science and nature.”

“All of us at The Hanover take great pride in the efforts we’ve made to strengthen public education and help our youth reach their full potential, and we are especially pleased to support the EcoTarium,” said Frederick H. Eppinger, the company’s chief executive officer. “Today, more than ever, when science, technology, engineering, and math play such important roles in our economy, the EcoTarium is an especially valuable resource to our city and to our region. We hope our matching grant will encourage even more businesses and individuals to support the EcoTarium’s important mission to advance math and science learning.”

Third Century Plan Enhancements

Cox also unveiled the EcoTarium’s newest welcome experience—the most recent result of the Third Century Plan. A central feature of the welcome experience is the path that takes guests from the upper parking lot, past the bald eagle and barred owl wildlife habitats, to the Sundial Plaza and main museum entrance. This pathway has been redesigned as a clear indicator of where the adventure begins.

The transformed pathway better showcases the eagle and owl habitats with natural landscaping that makes it easier than ever to observe them. New stone walls and handrails also add to the experience. A waterfall rounds out the beauty of the pathway and offers a natural-looking water source for the eagles, enabling guests to better understand the connection between the birds and the freshwater ponds and lakes where they would typically fish.

The EcoTarium is also in the planning phases of the next major exhibit at the museum, City Science. Through this exhibit, guests will be able to explore the inner-workings of a city. From ant colonies to sky-scrapers, the exhibit will provide a wide selection of interactives to let visitors investigate what happens within a city’s limits, including the insides of a manhole, how traffic lights work, and the importance of green landscaping for a healthy environment.

A Center for Innovation

In addition, Cox shared with attendees preliminary plans to leverage two significant grants to continue its role as New England’s leading science and nature center recognized for its innovation and ability to encourage science, nature, technology and math-focused learning and discovery.

The two nationally-renowned grants recognize the organization for its innovation.

The EcoTarium is one of 19 museums and libraries across the country whose innovative programs to prepare young children for school and to ensure grade level reading have been supported through a National Leadership Grant from Institute of Museum and Library Services.

The $48,920 award will allow the EcoTarium to develop a STEM-focused early childhood strategic plan as an important step towards expanding its successful preschool program and early childhood teacher development curricula.  The study will determine the feasibility of developing a STEM-focused learning laboratory within the museum setting and create an assessment tool useful to other museums interested in early childhood education. 

The EcoTarium will partner with Worcester Public Schools and the School of Education at Anna Maria College on the project.

At the same time, Worcester, San Diego, and Chicago were chosen to share a National Science Foundation (NSF) award of $2.7 million for the Art of Science Learning Phase Two  grant titled "Integrating Informal STEM and Arts-Based Learning to Foster Innovation." 

Over the next four years, this NSF grant will fund arts-based incubators for innovation in STEM learning, as well as a new arts-based STEM curriculum; experimental research to measure the impact of arts-based learning on creativity, collaboration and innovation; and public programs using the project's activities to advance civic engagement with STEM. 

As the incubator site for Worcester, the EcoTarium will bring together 30 cross-disciplinary innovation teams of STEM professionals, artists, educators, business leaders and students to learn arts-based techniques and apply them to STEM-related civic innovation challenges.  Participants also will collaborate on the development of new educational projects that integrate arts-based approaches into STEM learning.

About The Hanover

Founded in 1852, The Hanover Insurance Group, Inc. (NYSE: THG) is proud to be celebrating 160 years of delivering on its promises to its agent and broker partners, and their customers. The Hanover Insurance Group, Inc., based in Worcester, Mass., is the holding company for a group of insurers that includes The Hanover Insurance Company, Worcester, Mass., Citizens Insurance Company of America, Howell, Mich., Chaucer Holdings plc, London, and their affiliates. The Hanover offers a wide range of property and casualty products and services to businesses, individuals, and families through a select group of agents and brokers. The company is ranked among the top 25 property and casualty insurers in the United States. Through Chaucer, the company also underwrites business at Lloyd's of London in several major insurance and reinsurance classes, including property, marine and aviation, energy, U.K. motor and casualty. For more information, please visit

About the EcoTarium

The EcoTarium is New England’s leading science and nature center, an indoor-outdoor venue dedicated to inspiring passion for science and nature in visitors of all ages. The center offers a museum building with three floors of interactive exhibits and is home to live animal habitats, interpretive nature trails through forest and meadow, the Alden Digital Planetarium, a tree canopy walkway (seasonal), and a narrow-gauge railway.

The EcoTarium, located at 222 Harrington Way in Worcester, Mass., is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sundays from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $14 for adults, $8 for children 2—18, $10 for seniors 65+ and students with an ID. Parking is free. For more information, visit


Julieane K. Frost

Manager of Communications and Marketing