About the Exhibition main content.

About the Exhibition

Part of the Creatures of Light exhibition.

The American Museum of Natural History's Creatures of Light: Nature’s Bioluminescence is a new exhibition about the extraordinary organisms that produce light, from the flickering fireflies found in backyards across the Northeast to the deep-sea fishes that illuminate the perpetually dark depths of the oceans. Rare among plants and animals that live on land, the ability to glow—that is, to generate light through a chemical reaction—is much more common in the ocean, where up to 90 percent of animals at depths below 700 meters (2,300 feet) are bioluminescent.

"Creatures of Light reveals to the public some of the most magical, wondrous, and truly extraordinary creatures and phenomena to be found in the natural world," says Ellen V. Futter, President of the American Museum of Natural History. "The exhibition will take visitors to such fascinating places as a bioluminescent bay and the far depths of the ocean, explain why and how certain animals create 'living light,' and help us all better understand the vast and glorious ecosystem of which we are just a part."

 Creatures of Light will help answer such essential questions as:

  • What is bioluminescence?
  • What organisms are bioluminescent, and where are they found?
  • How does bioluminescence work?
  • How do organisms use bioluminescence to survive in their environment?

In Creatures of Light, visitors will move through a series of re-created environments, from the familiar to the extreme, to explore the diversity of organisms that glow and how they do it; discover the variety of ways in which light is used to attract a mate, lure unsuspecting prey, or defend against a predator; and learn how, where, and why scientists study this amazing natural phenomenon.

Throughout the gallery, visitors can interact with iPads featuring engaging videos, photographs, and additional content about bioluminescence and related phenomena.