Yet another reason to plan a road trip to Washington, DC. I haven’t been in at least 15 years, and I’ve been meaning to go visit the museums. Now there’s one more to add to the list: the Smithsonian is opening a $3million butterfly exhibit! The exhibit “Butterflies + Plants: Partners in Evolution” features a 1,200 square foot tropical butterfly garden with approximately 400 butterflies. In the exhibit’s main hall, visitors learn about the co-evolution of butterflies and plants.
All museum visitors can go to the main exhibit hall, but admission to the butterfly garden itself is $6. This is not without controversy, says the Washington Post (sign-in may be required), because no permanent Smithsonian exhibit has ever charged a fee before. The Post says that a Delaware representative has now introduced a bill that would prohibit the Smithsonian from ever charging an entrance fee. (Um….don’t you guys have more important things to worry about? Like say–this, this, this, or this? Stupid.)
Besides, for $3million, I can see why they want to charge an admission. And $6 doesn’t seem like all that much, considering the Post’s description:
Inside, season-defying 80-degree warmth bathes marble walls and sleek stainless steel food dishes of sliced grapefruit. In one corner, a dazzling blue morpho lolls on a halved banana, luxuriating in the humidity — maintained by sensors at 80 percent. Nearby, a trio of cream-and-black paper kite butterflies flutter briskly around a blinding overhead lamp. Sixteen 1,000-watt bulbs approximate “a bright, sunny summer day,” Babbitt says. The lights gradually dawn to full brightness at 7:30 a.m. and slowly revert to darkness 12 hours later.
Also, the museum has to continuously replenish their supply of chrysalises (butterfly pupae, in their cocoons) because butteflies only live a few weeks. Their chrysalises come from as far as Africa, Malaysia, and South and Central Ameria, according to the Post. I don’t know how I feel about this. I like the idea of butterfly pavilions, until I realize that butterflies only live for a few weeks and these will be spent entirely in captivity.
Let’s hope that none of them escape and turn into invasive species! Sounds like the plot of a future Disney movie called Attack of the Killer Butterflies. No! They were thinking ahead:
Exhibit developer Sally Love Connell says the pavilion’s lush plant life was carefully chosen to make sure no host plants — plants that provide a hospitable environment to any caterpillars that may hatch from eggs — are introduced. To comply with USDA regulations, the Smithsonian curtails reproduction by the insects and removes any eggs that are laid on the plants.