December 8, 2017

EcoTarium attendance grew 32% under Cox

Worcester's EcoTarium set an attendance record before Joe Cox started in 2012 -- and has far surpassed that since.

The attendance at Worcester children's museum EcoTarium grew more than 30 percent under departing president Joe Cox and is on track for an all-time year in 2017.

Cox announced on Nov. 20 he was stepping down from the EcoTarium to take another museum job, and on Thursday, he revealed his new position will become president and CEO of the Museum of Discovery and Science in Fort Lauderdale starting Feb. 1. His last day at the EcoTarium will be Jan. 26.

"The biggest thing I will take from my time in Worcester is this sense of collaboration the entire community has," Cox said. "Everyone here is willing to play and work together to make Worcester a more vibrant community."

The year before Cox started at the EcoTarium, the museum set a record attendance of 127,000 in 2012. Last year, the EcoTarium set a new record with 167,461 visitors; and this year, though the end of November, the museum has already had 168,000 visitors.

If 2017 keeps up at the same pace, the EcoTarium will have more than 180,000 visitors this year, meaning the museum's attendance might have grown 45 percent under Cox.

"The secret sauce is that constant, constant new offering," Cox said.

The EcoTarium opened new exhibits like City Science and Nature Explorer under Cox and is set to open Science Plus You in January and break ground on Wild Cat Station in the spring.

Cox is the midst of an $8.8-million fundraising campaign called the Third Century Campaign designed to ensure the EcoTarium's relevancy after its 200th anniversary in 2025. He hopes to have that completed before he leaves in January and has raised $8.35 million to date.

EcoTarium Trustee Patty Eppinger will serve as interim president until a permanent successor is named.

In Fort Lauderdale, Cox is replacing Kim Cavendish, who is retiring after 30 years of service.

"The fact that the museum is less than a mile from the beach doesn't hurt," Cox said.

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