Thousands of incredible butterflies from around the world will be on display for the first time in an immersive and enchanting exhibition at Auckland Museum. The remarkable exhibition contains a large selection of butterflies from war veteran Ray Shannon, who became fascinated with the beautiful insects during World War II and spent the rest of his life collecting them. In 2009, Shannon donated his entire collection of 13,000 exotic butterflies to Auckland Museum.
The exhibition, called The Secret World of Butterflies, is designed to showcase the incredible diversity of the world, says John Early, curator of entomology at Auckland Museum. “This is something we should value and treasure,” he says. “We hope it will instil a sense of wonder at the amazing diversity of life on earth.”
Since receiving the collection, Early has diligently arranged Shannon’s butterflies, before beginning to select content for the exhibition. “We spent a few years sorting them out and [now] it’s time that people get to see them, because they are absolutely exquisite,” he says.
Visitors will be treated to an interactive experience that includes model eggs to represent the butterfly life cycle, a large-scale caterpillar that children can crawl through, and special technology allowing visitors to create their own butterfly and unleash it into an enormous digital forest. Then there are the butterflies themselves, which range from modest native butterflies to extraordinary Amazonian ones.
At the same time, The Secret World of Butterflies gives an insight into the intriguing lives of these fascinating insects and the science behind them. How do butterflies protect themselves? What do they eat? Why are some shiny and others dull? These questions and more are explored, making this family-friendly exhibition perfect for any lover of the natural world, young or old. “Everybody loves a butterfly,” says Early. “They’re just so beautiful.”
This exhibition is accompanied by the special children’s book The Secret World of Butterflies written by Courtney Sina Meredith and illustrated by Giselle Clarkson.
The Secret World of Butterflies is open from June 9 to May 2019.
Visit aucklandmuseum.com for more information.