By Kate Gibbons
Mandibles and thoraxes are front and center at the University of Colorado Boulder’s Natural History Museum’s new exhibit, “Beetles,” which opened Monday, Oct. 8.
With more than 600 beetles on display, the free exhibit gives adults and children the opportunity to explore the diversity, beauty and behavior of beetles.
The museum wanted to “give audiences the opportunity to view the museum’s beetle collection which is typically not open to the public,” Andrea Kaufman Robbins, Public Programs Specialist, wrote in an email Thursday.
Armed with magnifying glasses and beetle guides, visitors are encouraged to inspect the insects up close. Rather than displaying them in typical lab trays, the museum pinned them to mirrors allowing viewers to see the underbelly of each bug.
From the friendly ladybug to the ferocious Stag beetle, visitors have no shortage of bugs to choose from. Ranging in size from a centimeter to over three inches, and colors from orange to blue, the beetles were collected from all over the globe.
With a National Audubon Society Field Guide and North American Insects and Spiders in his coat pocket, Kenin Marrian, a Fairview High senior, inspected a picture of a Tortoise beetle printed on a rug for the exhibit.
“I read on insects in general,” he said as he explained to other visitors that the Tortoise beetle’s wing case looks just like a turtle shell.
The rug is one of six that trace the BioLounge floor so that even when looking down visitors are immersed in the world of beetles.
In addition, banners hanging from the ceiling and freestanding cases explain the beetle’s life cycle, and environmental importance.
The white and black-spotted Ironclad beetle is adorned with jewels and gold and worn as jewelry in Latin America, India and Sri Lanka. Its exoskeleton is so tough it can live for months before dehydrating. After decoration, the living beetle is tethered to the wearer’s shoulder for special occasions.
The exhibit also features 20 original paper collage illustrations by artist, Steve Jenkins.
“They appear to go through life with single-minded determination, an impression reinforced by their armored, articulated bodies,” he wrote in his Artist’s Statement.
The exhibit will be open until Oct. 8, 2013, and incorporate special events throughout the duration. This month’s events are the lecture “The Mountain Pine Beetle’s Unprecedented Epidemic” on Oct. 16 at 7p.m., and the workshop “Beetle-Mania! Beetle-Inspired Creative Writing for Everyone,” on Oct. 24 at 7 p.m.
The museum is located on the CU campus in the Henderson Building at the corner of Broadway and 15th Street.