Up Close and Personal: Butterfly Pavilion at the NHM


The Butterfly Pavilion is back at the Natural History Museum and great news: it’s new and improved — and open until October 16.  After that date, the new space will host creepy crawlies in time for the fall (Halloween) season.

Always a seasonal favorite for kids and grown-ups alike, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles’s Butterfly Pavilion now has a new permanent structure that is brighter, airier, and roomier than its predecessors. The Pavilion is stocked with 25 species of butterflies that kids can explore at the most intimate level.

butterfly pavilionIf you’ve been the Pavilion before, you know that you enter a habitat that is stocked with plants that butterflies love. Pay attention and move slowly – there is much to discover from many species. Stay calm enough and a butterfly might alight on your shoulder. The Pavilion’s enhanced design has more vertical fly space, and provides better light for better flight, and more space to see the creatures perch.  The improvements are all part of the museum’s ongoing commitment help citizen scientists explore urban nature in new ways, as well as to make Exposition Park itself more of a destination.

County Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas came to celebrate the Pavilion’s opening and said that while the Pavilion looks deceptively simple, it delivers on an important idea: to introduce kids and families of all ages and backgrounds to nature and its stewardship. He went on to say the city hopes that everyone will see, explore, and get comfortable with nature.

Butterfly Pavilion

But let’s just start with the fun of being in the Pavilion. A circular path leads you around a lushly planted garden full of butterflies with a few nice benches to that allow you to rest and watch. Maybe one will land beside you!  The kids like to examine the large plastic “cheat sheets” and carried them around for help identifying the different species. All the butterflies were North American species, but most were new to us, such as the Zebra Longwing or the Buckeye  — both which look exactly like they sound! Our favorites were the most colorful — vibrant green Malachites and bright yellow Cloudless Sulfurs. Museum personnel were on hand to help with identification and to offer information about metamorphosis and butterfly life.

The exhibit runs from September 16- October 16th when it will be replaced by a Spider Pavilion just in time for Halloween which sounds incredibly cool and lends credence to Pavilion’s new multi-faceted role at the Museum of Natural History.

Also note that next weekend Sept 24th and 25th the Museum is also hosting a Dino Fest, billed as, “ Two days of all things Dinosaur”! So it might be a great way to make a whole day out of a trip downtown.

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles  // 900 Exposition Blvd, Los Angeles 9007 //(213) 763-DINO

Open seven days a week from 9:30am to 5 pm.   Museum Members and children age 2 and under are admitted to the Butterfly Pavilion for free. Princes for general admission plus the Pavilion are as follows: Adults $17; Students and seniors $14; Children (3-12) $8.

Other Adventures:

We did a story recently on a new exhibit at NHM, The Flight of the Pterosaurs.

If you are interested in tracking the Monarch Butterflies during their annual migration, here is a good overview of how to do this trip in either Santa Barbara or San Luis Obispo from KCET. We did a story on this a few years ago, as well.

Written by Cary Bickley