Project Description



May 31 through October 26, 2014

Butterflies explores one of Earth’s most unique living creatures along with the fascination they inspire in humans across the globe. Experience the live Butterfly Pavilion, filled with vibrant native and exotic species of butterflies, discover the fascinating and complex life cycle of butterflies including their remarkable metamorphosis, and learn what we can do to protect their place in the natural environment. The inter-disciplinary exhibition will include works by contemporary artists, as well as historic and cultural artifacts from around the world.

The Butterfly Pavilion, the heart of the Butterflies exhibition, will be aflutter with a variety of vivid butterflies, representing species from around the world as well as those found in New England meadows. Wonderfully diverse in shape, size, and color, the exotic varieties include the Paper Kite from Southeast Asia; the Green Birdwing, boasting a wingspan of up to 8 inches; the aptly named Glasswing Butterfly; and the shimmering Blue Morpho. Butterflies from the eastern United States include the familiar orange and black Monarch; the cleverly camouflaged Question Mark, the hardy Mourning Cloak, and the Tiger Swallowtail. The spacious Pavilion will mimic a lush summer garden, filled with blooms and foliage to provide a suitable habitat for the butterflies. Admission to the Butterfly Pavilion is an additional $2 per person.

Butterflies will showcase the miraculous transformation that makes the butterfly’s life cycle uniquely compelling. While the beauty of the adult butterfly is acknowledged, what may surprise visitors to Butterflies is the magnificence of the caterpillar, which also boasts vivid colors and unusual body structure. The stunning photographs of biologist and educator Samuel Jaffe bring to light the hidden, and captivating, world of the caterpillar. Visitors will be able to experience live caterpillars and watch butterflies emerge in a chrysalis chamber.

“We are captivated by the transformative journey the butterfly takes from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis and final adult,” says Maria Mingalone, the curator of the exhibition and Berkshire Museum’s director of interpretation. “Of all insects, we are most familiar with butterflies and moths, and yet there is still so much to unearth about a creature we see visiting flowers in our gardens or fluttering around our porch lights. Utilizing the Museum’s resources in natural science as well as the butterfly’s powerful symbolism and how that influences art and culture, this exhibition will enable visitors to understand the biology of this complex insect as well as coming to fully appreciate the magnificent beauty of the butterfly.”

Beautiful, graceful, and visually captivating, butterflies have inspired artists for centuries; the exhibition will include butterfly-inspired works of art, from sculpture and mixed-media to video. Objects from around the world, such as an embroidered kimono and a six-foot African mask, demonstrate how butterflies have been portrayed in other cultures.

Youngest visitors to the exhibition will mimic caterpillars in caterpillar wiggle bags, and manipulate morphing a caterpillar into a butterfly with plush toys while older visitors can play a tessellation garden puzzle or try a popular African board game called Gulugufe (which means butterfly in the Chitonga language of Mozambique). Using USB microscopes, visitors are invited to observe in minute details the structure of a butterfly’s wings or the tube-like mouth structure called a proboscis. They also can learn what can be done to support local butterfly populations ranging from suggestions on how to create your own butterfly garden and to minimize use of popular garden pesticides.