As Smaller Mass. Museums Begin Reopening, One in Worcester Makes Big Changes

The Worcester Ecotarium, a normally hands-on nature and science museum, is normally will be a quite different experience, with no access to its three floors of indoor interactive exhibits

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The Ecotarium in Worcester has been a pretty lonely place the past couple of months.

The nature walks normally filled with families and the live animal habitats usually busy with onlookers are all empty due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But that’s about to change, as smaller museums in Massachusetts have been given the green light to reopen -- with several restrictions.

“It’s going to be a really different world of operating a science museum,” said Ecotarium President and CEO Lucy Hale.

The normally hands-on nature and science museum will be a quite different experience, with no access to the three-floors of indoor interactive exhibits.

“I think it will be a while before some of those high-touch experiences come back,” Hale said.

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QR codes will instead provide a sort of self-guided tour, she said. All seating is being roped off or wrapped up, while masks and social distancing are a must.

“Nothing in person, so no planetarium, no birthday parties, no field trips,” Hale said.

The train that normally takes visitors for a ride around the 45-acre campus will not be allowed to run until probably Phase 4.

“Our capacity is down to 80 people per hour,” Hale said.

But that added space allows for an educational experience outdoors, with animal exhibits and the beautifully cultivated ground where families can keep a safe distance from each other fairly easily.

All tickets must be purchased online – with specific times for your visit – so as many families as possible can enjoy the Ecotarium safely.

“More than ever, science is really important in our lives and so what we do now is really crucial to helping us all get through this,” Hale said.

The Ecotarium is opening this weekend for members only, then to the general public on June 4 on a limited schedule from Thursday-Sunday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.

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