“Traveling Exhibit ‘Fantastic Bug Encounters!’ Opens at The Field Museum” by S.M. O’Connor

The New Zealander traveling exhibit Fantastic Bug Encounters! Opens at The Field Museum of Natural History today, Friday, June 28, 2019.  It will be open through Sunday, April 19, 2020.  Discover (as in Discover Card) and United Airlines are the Major Sponsors.  The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa developed the exhibit with the help of Weta Workshop Limited.

The exhibit features models made by the Weta Workshop – made famous by The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy (2001-2003) – and includes the Live Bug Zoo.  With the help of Field Museum staff, one can handle “friendly, laid-back bugs: a lubber grasshopper, Madagascar hissing cockroach, death feigning beetle, and patent leather beetle.”  Certain bugs are available to either be touched or seen up close during thirty-minute-long periods at the top of the hour five times per day: 10:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m., 2:00 p.m., and 3:00 p.m.  At other times of day, these insects will be visible inside their enclosures.  One can also peek at non-touchable arthropods like a pink-toed tarantula, emperor scorpion, and a stick mantis.

“In this hands-on experience, visitors will discover how bugs’ incredible adaptations are changing the world through interactives, larger-than-life models, and a bug zoo where visitors will be able to see (and even hold) live bugs from all over the planet,” stated The Field Museum in a press release.

“Bugs are weird, beautiful, and fascinating creatures, and we’re proud to be able to share them with visitors of all ages in Fantastic Bug Encounters!” stated Jaap Hoogstraten, Field Museum Exhibitions Director. “This exhibition is full of gorgeous larger-than-life models that show what these animals look like close-up and how they’ve perfectly adapted to the world around them—our visitors will never look at bugs the same way again.”

“Behind the scenes, the Field Museum has a collection of 17 million insects, spiders, and the many-legged millipedes and centipedes that our scientists use in their research—there are more insects in our collections than the number of people living in Illinois,” stated Field Museum Associate Curator Dr. Petra Sierwald. “There’s so much we have learned and so much more to learn about these critters that live among us, so we’re excited to highlight them through immersive, multisensory storytelling in this exhibition.”

The Field Museum stated, “Museum visitors will enter the world of bugs through large-scale, colorful models. The exhibition is built around four immersive chambers, where visitors experience the incredible talents of extraordinary insects. Hands-on interactive experiences let visitors test their reflexes, perform bug brain surgery, and fly their own origami butterflies in a wind tunnel. And bug enthusiasts will get to meet Field Museum scientists and their bugs in a one-of-kind bug zoo that features a dozen live bug species visitors can learn about and even touch.”

“The exhibition is packed with fascinating science content, looking at how humans are adapting bug technology: from drones inspired by the humble housefly, to spider venom being used to treat cancer,” stated Sir Richard Taylor, who co-created the exhibition with New Zealand’s Te Papa museum and co-founded the Weta Workshop, a five-time Academy Award-winning film studio. “For 450 million years, bugs have been getting smarter. From brain surgery to teamwork to the power of flight – they really can do it all. Now they’re sharing their genius to help humans make the world a better place.”

The exhibit is included with an All Access pass to the Field Museum and will run through April 19, 2020. One can visit www.fieldmuseum.org/fantasticbugs for exhibit updates.  This temporary exhibit compliments the permanent exhibit Underground Adventure.

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Figure 1 Credit: Martin Baumgaertner, © The Field Museum Caption: Guests walk through four immersive chambers with larger-than-life bug models and learn about the  incredible adaptations of bugs that are changing the world through multisensory interactives at The Field Museum’s exhibit Fantastic Bug Encounters!

nRU9M_B8Figure 2 Credit: Martin Baumgaertner, © The Field Museum Caption: A facilitator shows visitors a hissing cockroach at The Field Museum’s Live Bug Zoo inside Fantastic Bug Encounters!

2iLkbjrIFigure 3 Credit: Martin Baumgaertner, © The Field Museum Caption: Guests see living arthropods as well as models in The Field Museum’s exhibit Fantastic Bug Encounters!

OzTYULDsFigure 4 Credit: Martin Baumgaertner, © The Field Museum Caption: Visitors can see a tableau in which a jewel wasp attacks a cockroach in the Venom Chamber of at The Field Museum’s exhibit Fantastic Bug Encounters!

YgPvFyboFigure 5 Credit: Martin Baumgaertner, © The Field Museum Caption: This is an American giant millipede eating fresh vegetables. Guests can see and learn about these herbivores the Live Bug Zoo in The Field Museum’s exhibit Fantastic Bug Encounters!

toBVINh0Figure 6 Credit: Martin Baumgaertner, © The Field Museum Caption: Madagascar hissing cockroaches are also called “hissers.”  Guests can see and learn more about them in the Live Bug Zoo in at The Field Museum’s exhibit Fantastic Bug Encounters!

6calkrccFigure 7 Credit: Martin Baumgaertner, © The Field Museum Caption: A lubber grasshopper eats lettuce. A lubber grasshopper cannot fly or jump, but it makes for an excellent climber.  Guests can see and learn more about them in the Live Bug Zoo in The Field Museum’s exhibit Fantastic Bug Encounters!

AP06HftAFigure 8 Credit: Mike O’Neill, © Te Papa, courtesy of The Field Museum Caption: Inside the Swarm Chamber, visitors work together to generate heat, simulating the same technique Japanese honey bees use to protect their hive in this interactive display in The Field Museum’s exhibit Fantastic Bug Encounters!

mCCcT0E_Figure 9 Credit: © Te Papa, courtesy of The Field Museum Credit: This large-scale replica of a dragonfly displays the insect in midair. It is extremely difficult for prey to see these agile fliers coming until it is too late. Visitors can see more of these high-speed bugs in the Flight Chamber of The Field Museum’s exhibit Fantastic Bug Encounters!

oQFo9by9Figure 10 Credit: © Te Papa, courtesy of The Field Museum Credit: The orchid mantis resembles a real flower.  The camouflage is perfect and attracts prey right into the claws of the mantis.  Housed in the Display Chamber, visitors will see a large-scale replica in action with a light show in The Field Museum’s exhibit Fantastic Bug Encounters!

WwcIk1drFigure 11 Credit: © Te Papa, courtesy of The Field Museum Credit: Teamwork is the Japanese honeybee’s best defense against an unwelcome Asian giant hornet. The bees use a thermal defense by vibrating their flight muscles to increase the temperature in the hive. When the bees attack the hornet enmasse, they form a ball surrounding the intruder, raise the core temperature, and essentially suffocate the hornet.

k18esjERFigure 12 Credit: © Te Papa, courtesy of The Field Museum Credit: A Japanese honey bee and a predator, a hornet, battle it out.  The bugs, designed by the Academy Award-winning Weta Workshop, can be seen in The Field Museum’s exhibit Fantastic Bug Encounters!

 

ea0eYFUKFigure 13 Credit: © Te Papa, courtesy of The Field Museum Credit: The Jewel wasp attacks this cockroach by delivering a precise sting to its brain, turning it into a “zombie.” The wasp then leads the cockroach to its nest, where the sluggish cockroach will become a host for the wasp’s egg and larva. This freaky tableau can be seen in the Venom Chamber of The Field Museum exhibit ​Fantastic Bug Encounters!

 

 

Credit: The Brain Scoop caption: Emily Graslie, creator, writer, producer, and hostess of The Brain Scoop, interviews Dr. Petra Sierwald, Associate Curator at The Field Museum, in a video posted on October 14, 2015.

The Field Museum turned 125 years old in December, so this is a good year to see it.  Originally, it was called the Field Columbian Museum and it had a wide variety of exhibits as a repository of artifacts and specimens from Chicago’s first World’s Fair, the World’s Columbian Exposition (1893).  It was also housed, until 1920, in the Palace of Fine Arts (which now houses the Museum of Science and Industry).  Marshall Field I (1834-1906) donated the first $1,000,000 to endow the institution and left a bequest of $8,000,000 to increase the endowment and build a new museum.  His nephew, Stanley Field, was the third President of The Field Museum (1908-1964) and oversaw the construction of the new building.  He also donated an additional $2,000,000.  In 1900, The Field Museum narrowed its focus and became the organization we know today.  The South Park Commission, which later merged in 1934 with Chicago’s twenty-one other park districts to form the Chicago Park District, created Burnham Park with lakefill in part to provide a site for the construction of the new Field Museum as it was illegal to build in Grant Park.  The Field Museum is a research institution as well as a museum and employs scientists as well as curators, preparators, a librarian, an archivist, etc.

The Field Museum is part of the Museum Campus with the John G. Shedd Aquarium and the Adler Planetarium at the northern end of Burnham Park.  The Field Museum is open every day of the year, save one (Christmas Day).  It is open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. with the last admission at 4:00 p.m.  The street address of The Field Museum is 1400 South Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, Illinois 60605-2496.  The phone number is (312) 922-9410.  The Website is https://www.fieldmuseum.org/.

 

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