I’d meant to write about the EcoTarium Capital Campaign [press release here] more than a month ago, so I emailed to request an interview, but I never heard back, so here I am at the same point I was at earlier.
I’m a member of the EcoTarium, and I take my kids there a lot. There are definitely things that need to be improved with the facility, but for the most part, the kids have a great time when we go (our visits usually last 2-3 hours).
Most of what I have are questions, but perhaps someone else has more thoughts on the direction the EcoTarium should go in.
Things I like:
- Expanding out the top level of the building. (For interesting reading on the history of the main building, read this article in the New York Times.) Every time I walk in, I always think of the wasted space in the building. I think this will go a long way to making the museum a bit “fuller.”
- I was actually very ambivalent about the top-floor Mount Washington exhibit when I read about it in the newspaper, but I think the press release explains it a bit better. It’s great that they’re focusing on (a) New England and (b) something the museum doesn’t already have an exhibit about (weather).
- I also like that they’ll be pursuing American Zoological Association certification, because I think that can only improve conditions for the animals there.
Things I’d like to hear more about:
- How big is the climbing wall for the top level going to be? What are the safety precautions necessary? (Yes, I know I sound like a mother there, but it’s also a liability concern.) Are any of the rocks used going to be from the museum’s existing collection?
- Kenda is getting old. The EcoTarium is not going to be replacing her when she dies, and is going to continue to focus on animals native to New England. Will the focus be on rescued animals alone? What kind of impact will the loss of Kenda be for the museum? Do they have any plans for the space Kenda currently occupies.
- How much of the focus of the other floors is going to be on New England? (Personally, I love the idea of the museum having 75% of its focus on local natural history.) Are there plans to phase out the non-local stuff, most notably the taxidermied African animals on the lower floor? (If they phase out the African animals, can I have the Greater Kudu? Also, if you get rid of the Curator’s Workshop on the lower floor, my children will cry.)
- The EcoTarium usually has one or two travelling exhibits. Are there plans to make more permanent exhibits to reduce the reliance on traveling exhibits? Also, are there more plans for interactive exhibits?
I’d also like to hear more about the direction/focus of the EcoTarium. Is there going to be more of a New England focus? I also think the museum needs to have a better sense of what age groups it wants to serve going forward. This is a great place to take the under-8 set, but I don’t think I’d keep up a membership if my sons were teenagers. And that’s not necessarily the end of the world — there are other science museums that better serve older children and adults — but I think that it would be best to be upfront about who will appreciate a trip to this museum the most.