Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

American Museum of Natural History previews The Butterfly Conservatory and a new book, The Butterflies of North America: Titian Peale’s Lost Manuscript

The Butterfly Conservatory at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Photo by Lia Chang

The Butterfly Conservatory at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Photo by Lia Chang

The wildly popular Butterfly Conservatory at the American Museum of Natural History, now in its 18th year, opens on Saturday, September 5, and runs through Monday, May 29, 2016. American Museum of Natural History is located at Central Park West at 79th Street in New York.

An Owl Butterfly at The Butterfly Conservatory at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Photo by Lia Chang

An Owl Butterfly at The Butterfly Conservatory at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Photo by Lia Chang

The Butterfly Conservatory houses up to 500 iridescent butterflies that hover above visitors in a 1,200-square-foot vivarium filled with lush foliage and blooming tropical flowers.

The Butterfly Conservatory at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Photo by Lia Chang

The Butterfly Conservatory at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Photo by Lia Chang

The conservatory’s butterflies come from farms in Florida, Costa Rica, Kenya, Thailand, Malaysia, Ecuador, and Australia.Featured species include iridescent blue morpho butterflies, striking scarlet swallowtails, large owl butterflies, and beautiful green birdwings.

The Butterfly Conservatory at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Photo by Lia Chang

The Butterfly Conservatory at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Photo by Lia Chang

Because the average life span of many butterflies is only two to three weeks, roughly 500 butterfly pupae will be shipped to the Museum weekly for the duration of the exhibit, and the butterflies will be released into the vivarium after emerging. Other pupae hang in a case in the vivarium, giving visitors a firsthand look as adult butterflies emerge from chrysalises and fly away only hours after adjusting to their new surroundings. Video screens outside the vivarium will also display a short film about this process.

The Butterfly Conservatory at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Photo by Lia Chang

The Butterfly Conservatory at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Photo by Lia Chang

Colorful educational displays outside the vivarium explain the life cycle of butterflies, the worldwide efforts to protect their diverse habitats, and the variety of butterfly species in New York State. Visitors can learn about interesting adaptations, from the colored scales that form butterfly wings’ intricate designs to the intriguing relationships between butterflies and other animal species—monarchs, for example, are toxic to birds.). Other panels explain how scientists rely on wild butterflies to gauge the health of an ecosystem and how the Museum’s butterfly specimens offer a wealth of information to butterfly and moth researchers around the world.

Click here for more information on The Butterfly Conservatory.

Before the press preview of The Butterfly Conservatory today, David Grimaldi, curator of The Butterfly Conservatory, who is also in the Division of Invertebrate Zoology, Tom Baione, Harold Boeschenstein Director of the Museum’s Research Library and Barbara Rhodes, Conservator of the American Museum of Natural History’s Research Library at the American Museum of Natural History were on hand to introduce the new book The Butterflies of North America: Titian Peale’s Lost Manuscript, recently published by Abrams. (September 1, 2015; U.S. $40; hardcover).

David Grimaldi, curator of The Butterfly Conservatory and in the Division of Invertebrate Zoology, Tom Baione, Harold Boeschenstein Director of the Museum’s Research Library and Barbara Rhodes is Conservator of the American Museum of Natural History's Research Library at the American Museum of Natural History in New York on September 1, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang

David Grimaldi, curator of The Butterfly Conservatory and in the Division of Invertebrate Zoology, Tom Baione, Harold Boeschenstein Director of the Museum’s Research Library and Barbara Rhodes is Conservator of the American Museum of Natural History’s Research Library at the American Museum of Natural History in New York on September 1, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang

A never-before-published manuscript, illustrated with plates prepared more than 100 years ago, The Butterflies of North America: Titian Peale’s Lost Manuscript brings to light a lost masterpiece of natural history from the American Museum of Natural History’s Rare Book Collection.

Original, vibrant color plates of numerous butterflies by celebrated American artist and naturalist Titian Ramsay Peale II (1799–1885). Photo by Lia Chang

Original, vibrant color plates of numerous butterflies by celebrated American artist and naturalist Titian Ramsay Peale II (1799–1885). Photo by Lia Chang

Brimming with original, vibrant color plates of numerous butterflies by celebrated American artist and naturalist Titian Ramsay Peale II (1799–1885), the new book includes a foreword by Museum President Ellen V. Futter and text by Professor Kenneth Haltman and Museum Curator David A. Grimaldi that describes the art and science this talented artist brought to his extraordinary work.

Click here for the New York Times review and here to purchase the book.

The American Museum of Natural History is open daily from 10 am-5:45 pm, except on Thanksgiving and Christmas. For more information on the museum, call 212-769-5100 or check out the website at www.amnh.org.

Lia Chang

Lia Chang

Lia Chang is an award-winning filmmaker, a Best Actress nominee, a photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Jade Magazine and FebOne Blog.

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All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2015 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at liachangpr@gmail.com

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