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

Mega-models

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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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