Bugs opens May 27 at the California Academy of Sciences


New exhibition showcases the wonderful world of arthropods through larger-than-life models, hands-on activities, scientific specimens, and immersive experiences.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (April 21, 2022) — Starting Friday, May 27, 2022, the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park will open Bugs, a new exhibition that showcases the amazing adaptations bugs have developed over millions of years and across a multitude of environments. Bugs boasts ultra-detailed, larger-than-life models, video, hands-on activities, scientific specimens, and immersive experiences that enable visitors to glimpse the world from a bug’s perspective, delight in their bizarre beauty, and reflect on what we can learn from their brilliant behaviors. The exhibition was created by the internationally renowned Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand and Weta Workshop, whose outside-the-box creative designs helped bring the Lord of the Rings to life on the silver screen.

Brightly colored, intricately designed large scale models and species-themed immersive chambers transport you into the fantastical world of bugs, where you explore the evolutionary genius of three species’ adaptations. Learn how the beautiful but deadly orchid mantis uses its deceptive display to lure prey. Tap into the power of the swarm by using teamwork to defend a Japanese honey bee hive from invading hornets. And a huge, hypnotic zoetrope with 3-D printed models shows the precision flight of dragonflies as they hunt and pursue their prey.

The bug exploration continues with a focus on the astounding diversity of arthropods, from insects to arachnids and myriapods. See dozens of scientific specimens and dive deeper into groundbreaking bug science through hands-on activities like making your own flying paper bug to test different wing shapes, or challenging your speed and camouflage skills in interactive games. Discover the wonders of silk and explore how this incredible material is used in cutting-edge medicine and technology, and investigate bug-inspired technologies—from nanostructures to robotics to swarm intelligence.

Don’t miss the opportunity to see the insect world through the eyes of the Māori Indigenous people of New Zealand, and hear their stories of inspiration and learning from these tiny but impactful creatures. Learn about two bugs with special significance to the Māori, including New Zealand’s largest flying bug, the pūriri moth, and the giant wētā, thought to be the offspring of Punga, god of ugly things. Learn about the cultural significance bugs hold for Māori people through bug-inspired stories, view cultural items inspired by the pūriri moth, and see where bugs fit in the Whakapapa, the Māori family tree.

Be sure to catch bug-themed programs happening around the museum daily—like the Arthropod Opera, a musical puppet show that shares how insects and arachnids help ecosystems around the world, or Insect Investigation, an educator-guided hands on program that teaches how to use real science tools to find and observe insects, plus additional programs.

Bugs is a limited engagement and runs May 27, 2022 through January 22, 2023 at the California Academy of Sciences.