EcoTarium Announces New Exhibit to Open January 2017 | EcoTarium

EcoTarium Announces New Exhibit to Open January 2017

Discover the science hiding all around us in City Science
Release Date: 
Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Resources for Media are available (including links to City Science logo, City Science exhibit components, installation photos, and time lapse videos).

WORCESTER, MASS. – The EcoTarium announced today its latest permanent exhibit, City Science, will open on January 17, 2017. City Science: The Science You Live transforms the museum’s middle level into a unique hands-on investigation lab focused on urban science and ecology, a topic rarely explored in science museums. This immersive exploration of the modern city allows visitors to investigate the science we encounter every day but rarely stop to consider.

Installation is now underway for this 2,500-square-foot exhibit that incorporates live animals, interactive components, and natural history specimens, to give children and families the opportunity to experiment, engineer, and observe the science that is happening on our streets and in our neighborhoods. As visitors explore the exhibit, they will experience firsthand that the way we design and build our cities has powerful impacts on people, animals, civic life, and the larger environment.

“City Science is the EcoTarium’s most innovative exhibit to date,” said EcoTarium President Joseph P. Cox. “It engages visitors of all ages in discovering the multilayered science, nature, and engineering stories that are happening all around us every day, and it’s been developed with an approach that reflects our vision to be a collaborative partner and a national leader in science and nature learning.”

The exhibit includes seven theme areas, each focused around STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) skills and subjects delivered through 27 fun and engaging activities. Set against a backdrop of a magnificent three-dimensional cityscape mural inspired by the City of Worcester’s most iconic structures, visitors are immersed into the urban environment through a variety of activities, including custom-designed computer challenges, live animal observations, hands-on engineering activities, games, and more. Visitors can:

  • Search a 60-foot-long Worcester cityscape, created by artist Natalie Draz, for the science and engineering stories behind some of the city’s most recognized buildings.
  • Practice animal identification skills using infrared photos taken of the dozens of wild animals that roam the EcoTarium grounds each night.
  • Create their ideal neighborhood and scan it to build upon urban planning research.
  • Develop bird-watching skills and learn how to join the ranks of “citizen scientists.”
  • Make engineering decisions as they construct a bridge over a lake and over a canyon to meet urban engineering challenges.
  • Build a city, turn on the sun, and use infrared technology to see which parts of a city absorb the most heat and whether they can redesign to keep their city cool.
  • Design an animal-friendly neighborhood by placing houses in ways that allow turtles to safely travel between their habitats.
  • Meet the insects and animals who live in the city and find out how scientists observe and study them.

Seeing neighborhoods in a new way

In City Science, the EcoTarium is breaking new ground in exploring how science museums can shape and influence the future of their communities—and the personal actions of their visitors. The exhibit was developed in parallel with the National Science Foundation (NSF) project, From the Lab to the Neighborhood, a collaboration involving experts from the EcoTarium, UMASS Amherst, Clark University in Worcester, and Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, along with community and visitor input.

“More than half the world’s population lives in cities and suburban neighborhoods, and yet we often overlook the science questions that are hiding all around us in these environments,” says Betsy Loring, EcoTarium Director of Exhibits. “City Science not only provides unique and fun experiences for our visitors to enjoy together, it also allows them to learn the kinds of skills that can help them make our urban neighborhoods great places to live.”

Building for the future

The City Science installation is a major component of the EcoTarium’s Third Century Plan Campaign, a multi-year effort to upgrade the museum experience and facility as the museum approaches its 200th birthday in 2025. The Third Century Plan marks a new era in the EcoTarium’s nearly two-hundred-year history. In addition to City Science, the Plan includes a major outdoor exhibit, Wild Cat Station (currently in development), and two recently completed projects: the connection of the EcoTarium to the electrical grid as well as the upgrade and installation of new rails of the museum’s iconic Explorer Express Train. To learn more about the Third Century Plan Campaign and to help invest in EcoTarium’s future, visit

Developed in collaboration with a host of community researchers and subject-matter experts, City Science is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. City Hot Zones interactive is presented by Saint-Gobain. Engineering Lab is presented by National Grid.

Photo Caption: Installation of EcoTarium’s new City Science exhibit has been steady since September 2016. The full exhibit is scheduled to open on January 17, 2017. EcoTarium guests have been able to watch the second floor transformation for City Science from other floors of the museum.


Charlene L. Leith-Bushey
Manager of Marketing and Communications
Office: 508.929.2738