NEW BRITAIN - The New Britain Youth Museum has a new executive director, succeeding Ann Peabody, who retired recently after holding the position for 23 years.
Tom Pascocello started on Oct.1. He had been director of a nature center in Pennsylvania for 24 years.
Pascocello said he was ready for his next life adventure and wanted to move to a more rural state, such as New Hampshire, but the opening at the local museum attracted him to Connecticut.
Pascocello has a master’s degree in education and biology. He is a former professor at Pennsylvania State University, where he taught environmental education and parks and recreation courses.
He also worked at the Philadelphia Zoo as director of interpretation, helping visitors learn about the animals.
“I have a lot of background in wildlife, animals and education,” Pascocello said.
The New Britain Youth Museum has two sites, one in downtown, right behind the New Britain Public Library, and one at Hungerford Park. Pascocello is serving as the executive director of both locations, but his main office is at Hungerford Park.
“I was intrigued by being a director of the nature center as well as the youth museum in the city,” Pascocello said. “That combination attracted me originally. I think just where this organization was it was ready to take the next step. There are definitely challenges here, but there’s a lot of opportunity here, too. I also love the diversity and variety, just the number of different areas that I’m in charge of.”
Pascocello is in charge of all of the museum’s operations. His role includes building up new exhibits, raising funds and developing special programs among other duties.
The number of museums and outdoor activities in the state came as a surprise to Pascocello.
“There’s so many museums, so many places to go, so I was really shocked with so many different things to do here, which is wonderful for a person living here but is also a challenge as the director trying to compete with all these places for folks to come out and support,” Pascocello said.
He said both facilities of the Youth Museum need a facelift, an opportunity for Pascocello.
“It’s kind of an exciting time to take another step and to change things around a bit, which makes it very exciting for me to be here,” he said.
Jean Larson of New Britain has been a volunteer at the youth museum for 23 years and a board member for three. Larson described Pascocello as caring.
“He’s very caring about everything here, the staff and the vision that he has for what we are going to accomplish here,” Larson said. “He’s got a lot of ideas, a lot of enthusiasm, and he is genuinely appreciative. He has been in the not-for-profit world for years. He obviously must want to do something if he uprooted his life and moved here.”
To learn more about the New Britain Youth Museum, call the downtown site at 860-225-3020, Hungerford Park at 860-827-9064 or visit the website at www.newbritainyouthmuseum.org .
Karla Santos can be reached at 860-801-5079 or firstname.lastname@example.org.