A large-scale model of an orchid mantis demonstrates her camouflage

A large-scale model of an orchid mantis demonstrates her camouflage in the new Bugs exhibit at the California Academy of Sciences. (Kate Whitley © 2016 Te Papa)


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.

About the California Academy of Sciences

The California Academy of Sciences is a renowned scientific and educational institution with a mission to regenerate the natural world through science, learning, and collaboration. Based in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, it is home to a world-class aquarium, planetarium, and natural history museum, as well as innovative programs in biodiversity science, environmental learning, and collaborative engagement—all under one living roof. Museum hours are 9:30 am – 5:00 pm Monday – Saturday, and 11:00 am – 5:00 pm on Sunday. Admission includes all exhibits, programs, and shows. For daily ticket prices, please visit www.calacademy.org or call (415) 379-8000 for more information.

About Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand

Te Papa is the national museum of New Zealand, combining science, art, history, and the culture of New Zealand’s Indigenous Māori people. Since opening in 1998, it has been recognised as a world-leader in innovative museum experiences, attracting over 1.5 million visitors a year in a country of only five million people.

About Weta Workshop

For over 25 years, five-time Academy Award®-winning Weta Workshop has applied creativity and craftsmanship to blockbuster films and hit television series, including The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies, King Kong, District 9, Thunderbirds Are Go, and Ghost in the Shell. This diverse, innovative company is also a tourist destination, producer of consumer products, behind-the-scenes facility, and creator of public sculptures and exhibitions, with CEO Richard Taylor involved in all projects, from concept to completion.

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