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  • Poison_Intro

    Explore Poison

    Explore poison’s roles in nature, myth, and human health.

  • Poison_Frogs
  • Poison_Choco-1
  • Poison_Choco-2

    Poison in Nature

    Chocó forest is the perfect place to look for plant and animal adaptations.

  • Poison_film

    Natural Arms Race

    This film demonstrates stories of a natural arms race between predators and prey.

  • Poison_Myth-section

    Poison in Myth and Legend

    Countless fairy tales and legends from around the world include tales of illness, enchantment, and death caused by poisons.

  • Poison_Mad-hatter

    The Mad Hatter

    Find out the real story behind the Mad Hatter character in Lewis Carroll’s children’s book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

  • Poison_Witches

    The Witches of Macbeth

    In this famous scene from Shakespeare’s Macbeth, three witches prepare a cauldron of poisonous brew intended as a charm of powerful trouble.

  • Poison_literature

    Poisons in Literature

    Survey the role of poisons in literature, from Agatha Christie to Sherlock Holmes; from comic books to Harry Potter.

  • Poison_Charms

    Charms and Amulets

    Discover charms and amulets from around the world, thought to protect from poison.

  • Poison_Enchanted-Book

    The Enchanted Book

    To unlock this book’s mysteries, flip the pages to explore each plant’s anatomy and reveal animated clues about its history of folklore.

  • Poison_Villains-and-Victims

    Villains and Victims

    Explore some of history’s most mysterious poisoning cases—many of which remain puzzling even today.

  • Poison_Theater

    Forensics Theater

    Join in a live presentation about a historical murder-by-poison, and the rise of forensic toxicology.

  • Poison_Mystery-app

    Solve the Mystery

    Use clues to try to solve three poisoning mysteries at interactive iPad app stations, surrounded by clues.

  • Poison_For-Good

    Poison For Good

    Thousands of plants are being studied as a source of potential new drugs. Among them is the yew tree, whose bark has proven to be an anti-cancer medicine.

The Power of Poison

Whether as a defense against predators, a source of magical strength, or a lethal weapon used as lifesaving medical treatment, the story of poison is surprising at every turn. The Power of Poison explores poison’s paradoxical roles in nature, human health and history, literature, and myth. 

Inviting visitors to wander through a walk-through diorama of Colombia’s Chocó Forest, the exhibition introduces poisons, toxins, and venoms and their role in evolutionary strategies. Visitors
 will also explore some of history’s most puzzling poisoning cases through digital interactives and a theater where live presenters share dramatic stories of poisonings and forensic detection.

Immersive dioramas and media presentations portray the role of poison in fairy tales and legends from around the world. The exhibition will also examine how poison is used for good, leading to treatments for a myriad of medical conditions.



" of the most theatrical exhibitions the museum has mounted" − The New York Times

"...exquisitely designed" − Gizmodo

"...thoroughly modern" − Fast Company

Exhibition Information

Venue Gallery Size:

7,000 – 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

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New York, NY 10024-5192
Phone: 212-769-5100

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except on Thanksgiving and Christmas
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