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  • CoL_Entry

    Creatures of Light

    A darkened gallery sets the tone for the exhibition, which takes visitors on an exploration of bioluminescence.

  • CoL_Glowing-mushrooms

    Glowing Mushrooms

    This oversized model represents a jack-o-lantern mushroom around 40 times the mushroom’s actual size.

  • CoL_Fireflies


    This section evokes an evening lit by fireflies, all signaling to one another in their species-specific “language of light.”

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    Firefly Communication

    Learn how fireflies communicate with flashing light at this hands-on interactive station.

  • CoL_Glowworms


    Experience a recreation of a New Zealand cave filled with glowworms’ sticky bioluminescent traps.

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  • CoL_ClickBeetle

    Inspection Stations

    Inspection stations throughout the exhibition present creatures, like this click beetle, for close examination.

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  • CoL_Bioluminescent-Bay

    Bioluminescent Bay

    This interactive environment mimics the brilliant light displays of bioluminescent dinoflagellates.

  • CoL_Anglerfish

    Deep Ocean Life

    This model of an anglerfish shows the modified dorsal fin spine topped with a lure that pulses with bacterial light.

  • CoL_Deep-Sea-Theater

    Deep Sea Theater

    This stunning film explains the diversity of bioluminescent animals in the deep ocean.

  • CoL_AlteredLight

    Altered Light

    This section demonstrates the distinction between fluorescence and phosphorescence.

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Creatures of Light: Nature’s Bioluminescence

Explore the extraordinary diversity of organisms that produce light, from flickering fireflies found in backyards worldwide to rarely seen deep-sea fishes and other fantastic creatures that illuminate the perpetually dark depths of the oceans. Learn how and why so many organisms glow. Visit other-worldly environments complete with customized soundscapes, including a digitally interactive dinoflagellate “blue lagoon” and an extraordinary fluorescent coral reef where visitors can navigate the habitat through touchscreens. Throughout the exhibition, visitors can delve deeper into the science of bioluminescence at interactive iPad stations.


Creatures of Light: Nature’s Bioluminescence is organized by the American Museum of Natural History, New York, in collaboration with The Canadian Museum of Nature, Ottawa, Canada, and The Field Museum, Chicago. 



“I felt as if I was in a dream and was curious to touch, see, learn and explore the many interactive stations, cool displays, and dimly lit spaces glowing with bioluminescence” – National Geographic

“A thoroughly engrossing exhibition…teaches us quite a bit about the phenomenon. Yet it still manages to preserve that otherworldly mystery, even cherishing it” – The New York Times

Exhibition Information

Venue gallery size:

6,000 – 8,000 ft2 

(650 – 750 m2)


Venue ceiling height:

12 ft recommended

(3.6 m)


Conservation & Security requirements:



Standard Rental Length:

16 weeks


Exhibition Brochure


Educator’s Guide

American Museum of Natural History

Central Park West at 79th Street
New York, NY 10024-5192
Phone: 212-769-5100

Open daily from 10 am-5:45 pm
except on Thanksgiving and Christmas
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