Delight in the bizarre beauty of bugs, see the world from their perspective, and learn how they evolved their unique adaptations and behaviors in an all-new exhibition now open at the Academy.

Prepare to be mesmerized by the wonderful world of arthropods with Bugs, a fantastical bug-themed exhibition created by Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand and Weta Workshop.

Featuring ultra-detailed, larger-than-life models, hands-on activities, scientific specimens, and immersive experiences, Bugs encourages us to be curious about the insects among us—and appreciate the outsize role these tiny-but-mighty creatures play in the natural world.

Sensory advisory: This exhibition is a high-sensory environment containing significant lighting effects (including a strobe light located in the dragonfly chamber), sounds and music, and interactive media screens. View our interactive map for a sensory guide to all Academy exhibits and spaces.

Larger-than-life model of an orchid mantis with outstretched arms in Bugs exhibit


You’re probably used to looking down at bugs. Get ready to look up! Bugs boasts an impressive array of extra-large insect models, including the enormous orchid mantis (​​Hymenopus coronatus) pictured here, a dragonfly (Procordulia smithii) in flight, and a venomous katipo spider (Lactrodectus katipo).

Girl gazes excitedly at a giant weta specimen on display in Bugs exhibit

Striking specimens

See dozens of fascinating insect specimens, including this wētāpunga (giant wētā), a colossal cricket native to New Zealand and the world’s heaviest insect, and learn about the cultural significance the giant wētā and pūriri moth have for New Zealand’s Indigenous Māori people.

Guests play an interactive game in the Bugs exhibit

Interactive antics

Tap into the power of the swarm to defend a Japanese honey bee hive from invading hornets, and see how your speed and camouflage skills stack up against insect challengers in a variety of hands-on games and crafts.

Guests in the dragonfly zoetrope room in Bugs exhibit

Mesmerizing media

Enter the Flight chamber, where a huge, hypnotic zoetrope uses 3-D printed models to show a dragonfly in flight pursuing its prey. After your aerobatic adventure, investigate cutting-edge technologies inspired by bugs, from nanostructures to robotics to swarm intelligence.


All photographs on this page by Mike O’Neill © Te Papa 2016

Hours & location

Bugs is open daily through January 22, 2023. Find it in the Forum Gallery on Level Two, directly above the Academy Café.

Generously supported by:
The Bernard Osher Foundation logo