Bugs… Outside the Box

Posted on May 21 by SEASONS Magazine

Beetle Chrysomelidae, courtesy photo.

Beetle Chrysomelidae, courtesy photo.

The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History (2559 Puesta del Sol) is unveiling all things creepy and crawly with the new exhibit Bugs… Outside the Box. This exhibit, which opens May 27,  invites viewers to see all the intricacies of the insect world through various mediums. Insects ranging from beetles to butterflies will be presented in the form of giant sculptures, in nature and blown up and printed onto canvas “art gallery” style. This exhibit effortlessly melds two areas often seen as polar opposites—science and art.

Visitors will be able to come in contact with the overlooked minuscule world of bugs in this exhibit. Over a dozen large-scale sculptures crafted by Lorenzo Possenti show how the planet’s most striking insects have evolved. Through these sculptures, viewers can see the intricate structures of insect wings, body style and how color helps certain insects camouflage.

“This is a great opportunity for people of all ages to appreciate and learn about the smaller things all around us that normally go unnoticed,” says Matthew Gimmel, Curator of Entomology at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. “After all, insects make up over 2/3 of all animals on Earth; they dominate most non-marine environments, and can be hugely destructive pests or be amazingly beneficial as pollinators or predators. There are so many insects (we don’t even know how many) doing so many things that entomologists still have an incredible amount to learn about these creatures.”


Whirligig Gyrinid, courtesy photo.

Whirligig Gyrinid, courtesy photo.

In addition to the sculptures, there will be a number of interactive pieces where guests can physically interact with these creatures. There will be “Magnification Stations” which allow guest to test magnification as high as 400x to get a feel for the technology used every day by scientists. The “Touch Zone” will allow visitors to hand the large model insect body parts that match the sculptures throughout the museum. Finally, the “Build a Bug” area will allow guests to build their own custom creatures modeled after real-life insects.

A “Bug Boot Camp” will also be offered. This interactive program will allow visitors to look through leaves and soil to see what creatures they can uncover. Throughout the summer, the museum will offer “Bug Out Tuesdays” a free event where scientists of all ages and see a range of live, bug-themed displays. On the opening day of the exhibit, visitors can try their hand at insect taxonomy and can try pinning their own bugs with the help of entomologists.

Bugs…Outside the Box is on view through September 10. For more information, visit sbnature.org or call 805/682-4711.

—Lauren Bennett





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