- Department of Conservation & Recreation
Media Contact for DCR Celebrates Completion of Blue Hills Trailside Museum and Otter Exhibit Improvement Project
Carolyn Assa, Communications Director
BOSTON — Building on the Baker-Polito Administration’s commitment to providing residents and visitors with a first-rate state parks system, Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) Commissioner Jim Montgomery today joined with Mass Audubon and local officials at a ribbon cutting ceremony in the Town of Milton to celebrate the completion of the Blue Hills Trailside Museum and Otter Exhibit improvement project within the Blue Hills State Reservation. The project enhances the visitor experience at the reservation, improves access for park staff and veterinarians, and provides new exhibit space for a long-beloved reservation.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated how important recreational and cultural outdoor spaces are for our communities across Massachusetts,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. “The completion of the Trailside Museum and Exhibits highlights the Baker-Polito Administration’s commitment to improving the visitor experience for state park goers and working closely with valued partners like Mass Audubon.”
“By partnering with key stakeholders on projects like the improvement of the Trailside Museum and Exhibits, we are able to further strengthen community bonds and expand visitor opportunities,” said Department of Conservation and Recreation Commissioner Jim Montgomery. “The revitalized museum and exhibits will be a popular destination for the Milton community and surrounding area, bringing new energy and excitement to the educational center of the Blue Hills.”
The $2.3 million project broke ground in spring 2019, and the otter exhibit was completed in August 2021. Additionally, the otter was introduced to the new habitat in September 2021 to allow for acclimation time before holding a celebration of the completed project. The scope of the project includes:
- A new otter exhibit that better reflects the otter’s natural habitat;
- A new animal care shed for feeding, training and caretaking purposes;
- A new turtle exhibit with glass panels and reconstructed basin;
- Universal access improvements at the entrance to the museum; and,
- Improved access for keepers, veterinarians, and exhibit staff.
“Mass Audubon is thrilled to welcome our otter home to the Blue Hills Trailside Museum, where it will again delight visitors and, along with our other education animals, inspire people of all ages and backgrounds to connect with nature,” said Lauren Gordon, Director of Mass Audubon Metro South. “We are extremely grateful to Zoo New England for caring for the otter over the last two years and to the state Department of Recreation and Conservation for their continued support, represented by this remarkable enclosure. The otter exhibit is truly the centerpiece of Trailside.”
The Trailside Museum opened in 1959 and was initially operated by the Museum of Science. In 1961, the Massachusetts Zoological Society (later the Boston Zoological Society) assumed management. Mass Audubon took over as operator of the Museum building and its associated site and outdoor exhibits in 1974, to advance their mission to protect the nature of Massachusetts for people and wildlife. In continued partnership with Mass Audubon, the Blue Hills Trailside Museum is the interpretive center for DCR’s Blue Hills Reservation and features a natural history museum and outdoor exhibits of native wildlife.
“I am elated to be welcoming back our North American River Otter to the Blue Hills Trailside Museum,” said State Senator Walter F. Timilty (D-Milton). “After a two-year habitat renovation, this home for the otter is now better than ever. The Blue Hills Trailside Museum is truly a gem in the Commonwealth and serves as the public’s window into the Blue Hills Reservation. This renovation not only improves the otter’s experience living here, but also improves the educational quality of the visitor’s experience.”
"It is wonderful that Trailside's resident otter has a brand-new home. The otter exhibit is a favorite for visitors to the Trailside and I am sure kids and adults will enjoy learning all about otters while visiting the new exhibit. Thank you to the staff at the Trailside and DCR for their efforts in revitalizing the exhibit and to Zoo New England for taking care of the otter while his new home was under construction," said State Representative Bill Galvin (D-Canton).
“I'd like to thank the fine people of Stoneham, represented by Michael Seamus Day, and the team at Zoo New England for taking care of the river otter while this tremendous new home at the Blue Hills Trailside Museum was constructed,” said State Representative Bill Driscoll (D-Milton).
In addition to the ribbon cutting ceremony, there were a number of activities for the whole family, including a book signing. Mass Audubon worked with a children’s author and a local illustrator to create a book about the Trailside Museum, One Day at Trailside. Author Ann Suzedell and artist Susan Kilmartin attended the event to sign books and participate in an organized walk.