Big things coming to Insectarium

A hands-on experience: The Insectarium and Butterfly Pavilion will host SWARM this Saturday, which includes acrobats, a giant nest and “the birds, the bees and all those between.” It’s one of many upcoming community events announced in an effort to experiment with interactive exhibits. LOGAN KRUM / TIMES PHOTO

The Insectarium and Butterfly Pavilion has allowed spectators to view insects and other creatures up close. Now it’s tackling this question, among many others: What does the world look like from a bug’s perspective?

In a post-Buglary landscape that saw the majority of creatures stolen from the bug museum, John Cambridge, CEO of the Insectarium, has ushered the museum through a creative renaissance. The cages on all three floors are once again full of tiny life, art from local artists decorates the space and plenty of community events, like the monthly pop-up beer garden, are taking place.

It’s time to keep the metamorphosis going.


“I think it’s fair to say when you walk in there you’ll feel like you walked into a different world,” Cambridge said. “It’ll be fully immersive.”

The second floor of the museum, which previously explored biology and ecology in a straightforward way with glass cages and displays, has been closed for renovations as the floor is envisioned anew. The Insectarium team has been experimenting with a few interactive exhibits, such as escaping being caught in a spider web.

“Let’s make the humans small and have them walk through the world as an insect does,” Cambridge said.

The Insectarium has enjoyed much growth over the past three years, including the grand reopening in fall of 2018, when $18,000 was raised via GoFundMe donations after the 7,000 creatures were stolen. This has allowed Cambridge and the team to focus on elements like bringing art, events, birthday parties and even weddings onto the site.

That also includes events like SWARM, happening this Saturday. A collaboration among the Insectarium, Cirque du Nuit and Wings of Paper, a theater company Cambridge also heads, the event promises to involve acrobats, a giant nest and “the birds, the bees and all those between.”

“Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be inside the mind of a honeybee? Have you ever tried to walk through time to explore yourself? Come experience a bizarre world of performance, arts and insects,” the teaser for the 21+ event reads. It’ll happen from 4 to 11 p.m. and costs $20 to get in.


“It’ll be something where people are able to come in and be a part of the experience rather than just view it,” Cambridge said.

Butterfly Love Fest, on the other hand, will be a family-friendly Valentine-themed event coming Feb. 15. The goal is to have that event coincide with the opening of the new interactive second floor.

More than a dozen schools in the area, including Northeast and Lincoln high schools, participate in after-school programs provided by the Insectarium. The classes can range from scientific illustration to garden creation to environmental improvised theater.

On the left side of Cambridge’s brain, a few new shows are coming to Mayfair Black Box Theater via Wings of Paper, the theater company he runs with Kate Brighter, director of operations. Upcoming shows include dark comedy The Dumb Waiter, focusing on two hit-people who are faced with mysterious happenings as they await their next assignment. It will run Feb. 13-22.

The Zoo Story, written by Cambridge about a character who announces to a stranger he has been to the zoo, will run March 12-24. And Pick, a show written and directed by Brighter, is an immersive dance and theater experience that carries the viewer through the five stages of grief in early April or late May.

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